Man due in court after £10m Gainsborough painting 'slashed at National Gallery'

Rachel Dickerson
'Slashed': Mr and Mrs William Hallett ('The Morning Walk') by Thomas Gainsborough: PA

A homeless man was appearing in court today charged with slashing a £10million portrait at the National Gallery with a screwdriver.

Conservators are today examining the extent of the damage to the Thomas Gainsborough’s 1785 artwork The Morning Walk, which featured in 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

When apprehended with the help of visitors, the man allegedly falsely claimed to be armed with a knife and a bomb – triggering the evacuation of the gallery’s East Wing at 2.15pm on Saturday.

One witness said: “I was wandering with a friend through the gallery when one of the staff shouted at everyone to move aside.

"An older man, surrounded by about eight staff, was quickly taken past us.”

The Morning Walk (National Gallery)

A spokesman for the gallery said the painting had been removed from display and was being examined by experts.

Initial investigations suggest that the painting suffered two long scratches which penetrated the paint layers, but the supporting canvas is undamaged.

The spokesman said: “A man was quickly detained by gallery assistants with the help of some visitors. The gallery’s conservators are assessing next steps.”

The work, which sits directly opposite Joseph Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’, sold for £30,000 in 1954.

It was also featured in the 2012 Bond thriller, in a scene where Daniel Craig and actor Ben Whishaw meet in the National Gallery.

Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address, was appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with causing criminal damage.