Quite a few hacks were probably thinking “there but for the Grace of God…” when on Saturday evening in Lugano’s swanky Meno Uno gallery, one of their number, tanked up on free cocktails, made a lunge for a passing nibble but instead knocked over and destroyed a priceless work of art.
With the famous Swiss sense of decorum notably absent, “one guest at the preview," intoned Radio Switzerland (RSI), "caught between a canapé and a chat with someone, unfortunately knocked over a work by Luciano Fabro and smashed it to pieces. It is, or rather, it was, the famous Impronta (Imprint) dated 1962-1964".
What the RSI report didn’t mention was that one of its own hacks, subsequently nicknamed the “Swiss Mr Bean”, was responsible for the calamity.
The sculpture, an opaque glass disk with a central impression of Planet Earth at its centre, was left in a thousand pieces, while the other 30 guests picked their jaws up of the floor. Ironically, the work was said by its creator to represent the longevity of the world.
A spokesman for RSI admitted later: “It is no consolation the fact that the insurer was present at the inauguration of the collection.” Though it's not clear whether the lush who knocked the sculpture over shared this sentiment.
The Imprint was made by the Turin-born conceptual sculptor Fabro, who died in Milan in 2007. As one of the most celebrated works of the 20th century Italian Arte Povera movement, experts had said it was difficult to put a price on the piece.
Some wags noted it was probably easier to estimate its value now; others suggested it that true to its origins as “poor art” it might enjoy a new lease of life presenting inebriate journalists’ lack of respect for the arts.