A 20th-century copy of an ancient sculpture of Laocoön in San Francisco has been vandalized. Housed outside the Legion of Honor, the marble sculpture is currently missing some of its figures’ heads, according to ABC7, which first reported the news last Friday.
The original Laocoön and His Sons, owned by the Vatican Museum, features a Trojan priest and his sons ensnared by sea serpents that attack them. That sculpture may have been of ancient Greek origin, and like other masterpieces from those civilizations, it is believed to be missing some of its parts, including the arm of Laocoön himself.
Now, so too is the San Francisco copy of it. In addition to the heads that were severed, a portion of one figure’s leg was also removed by the vandals last week. Martin Chapman, a curator in the Legion of Honor’s European paintings and sculptures department, said the museum wasn’t sure where the lopped-off portions of its Laocoön sculpture may have gone, but police are now investigating.
Unfortunately, there are few leads to be gained from security footage. According to the museum, cameras did not capture the vandals at work. What the Legion of Honor does know, however, is that other artworks at the museum were not harmed amid the decapitation of the Laocoön sculpture.
“This is really sad, this is a loss to the museum and people of San Francisco because this is a piece of art that’s been vandalized wantonly,” Chapman told ABC7.
Greek Tragedy. 90 year-old marble sculpture vandalized at @legionofhonor Museum. Curators hope missing pieces can be returned or recovered. pic.twitter.com/vjSCzXiWSC
— Cornell Barnard (@CornellBarnard) December 4, 2021