Vladimir Umanets admitted defacing Rothko’s painting (Twitter)
Vladimir Umanets admitted defacing Rothko’s painting (Twitter)

A vandal who defaced a Mark Rothko painting with a potential value of millions at London's Tate Modern gallery has been jailed for two years.

Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, who is also known as Vladimir Umanets, vandalised the painting believed to be worth between £5m and £9m on 7 October.

The Polish national, of Worthing, West Sussex, said he defaced Rothko's 1958 painting Black on Maroon in a bid to raise awareness for the movement yellowism - which he founded with another artist - in a bid to make the piece more valuable.

The vandal stepped over a barrier at the Tate Modern and scrawled the words "Vladimir Umanets 12 a potential piece of yellowism" before escaping.

Umanets admitted criminal damage to the value of £5,000 at Inner London Crown Court, but it is estimated the restoration of the painting could cost around £200,000 and take about 18 months.

Speaking about yellowism, Judge Roger Chapple told Umaniec it was "wholly and utterly unacceptable to promote it by damaging a work of art", which he described as "gift to the nation".

Umanets set up yellowism with fellow artist Marcin Lodyga in 2010. The pair describe it as a "phenomenon" rather than an artistic movement and follows the yellowism manifesto penned by the both of them.

Umanets and Lodyga hosted an exhibition together in May entitled No One Lives Forever.

According to the website, the exhibition brought together "works presented before in the well-known galleries [and] transforms them into the pieces of yellowism".

Earlier this year, Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow work sold for £53.8 million - the highest price paid for a piece of post-war art at auction.