Homes of Brooklyn Museum Leaders Tagged With Protest Graffiti

The residences of four Brooklyn Museum leaders including Director Anne Pasternak were graffitied in red paint early today, June 12, in an autonomous action denouncing the institution’s ties to “shameless complicity in genocide,” according to a statement from an anonymous group claiming responsibility.

The statement, shared with Hyperallergic, says the group specifically targeted the homes of Pasternak, Board Chair Barbara Vogelstein, Board Treasurer Neil Simpkins, and the museum’s President and Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Panicek Trueblood in response to a heavily policed pro-Palestine protest on May 31 that saw dozens of arrests. In the days that followed the demonstration, some activists decried the police and museum security team’s response, calling it a “show of force and violence.” The museum acknowledged in a statement to Hyperallergic that “the police brutality that took place was devastating” but said it did not call the police.

Artists including Deborah Kass, whose “OY/YO” sculpture outside the Brooklyn Museum entrance was graffitied during the May 31 protest, took to Instagram to denounce the recent incident at Pasternak’s house as “vile anti-semitism.”

The action targeted the homes of museum leaders and board members.

Photos of the graffiti incident shared on X this morning by several New York City public officials including Mayor Eric Adams show the front exteriors of the affected homes splashed with bright red paint. The anonymous demonstrators also graffitied inverted red triangles to the residences’ windows and mounted a white banner on at least one front porch that read, “Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum White-Supremacist Zionist.”

Inverted red triangles are sometimes used by protesters as symbols of Palestinian resistance. Some sources have traced the triangle’s origins to Hamas military videos in which the shape is used to mark Israeli military targets. The red triangle also appears in the Palestinian flag, and recently, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) transformed its iconic upward-facing triangle with a watermelon design in solidarity with Gaza.

Additional images shared with Hyperallergic by the individuals claiming responsibility show sidewalks spray-painted with the circular Anarchist symbol and the phrase “Blood On Your Hands.”

In response to Hyperallergic‘s inquiry, a Brooklyn Museum spokesperson said that the institution is “deeply troubled by these horrible acts.” A representative for the NYPD told Hyperallergic over the phone that police are currently investigating the vandalism as a “hate crime and criminal mischief incident.”

Demonstrators spray painted the phrase “Blood On Your Hands” on the sidewalks outside some of the residences.

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), a coalition whose members include over 200 institutions in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, publicly condemned the action as “antisemitic” and said it hopes “authorities will pursue and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent.”

“Whether at someone’s home or at a museum, this behavior is inexcusable,” the statement read. “It does tremendous disservice to discourse and conflict resolution, and the ends simply do not justify the means.”

The statement from the autonomous group alleges that Board Treasurer Simpkins “unsuccessfully chased down activists from his $37 million townhouse.” The statement notes that Simpkins is a senior director at the investment firm Blackstone and notes the company’s alleged ties to weapons manufacturing, investments in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and real estate ventures that have been accused of contributing to global gentrification. Hyperallergic has contacted Simpkins and Blackstone for comment.

“The museum’s complicity in the Palestinian genocide is a filthy inescapable reality and so is its violence against those protesting it,” the group’s statement read. “Our action is a retaliation against the museum’s direct connections to the networks that materially support the genocidal entity as well as its collaboration with the fascist NYPD.”

Editor’s note 6/14/24 10:45am EST: This article has been updated with comment from NYPD.

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Maya Pontone