Suspect Uriel Landeros Arrested Yesterday; Meanwhile Damaged Picasso Painting Still Being Repaired

The attorney representing the man charged with vandalizing a Picasso painting at the Menil last summer could find it difficult to defend him when he returns to Houston, possibly tomorrow. It seems the suspect has already confessed to the crime.

Twenty-two year old Uriel Landeros was charged with felony graffiti and criminal mischief for spray painting the 1929 Pablo Picasso masterpiece titled, Woman in a Red Armchair at the Menil Collection last June. He stenciled an image of a bull-fighter killing a bull and the word conquista, Spanish for conquered.

He fled the country to evade arrest, but Houston attorney Emily Detoto, who was hired by Landeros’ family to defend him, says she needs to find out if he did confess to the vandalism as reported.

“I don’t think that he knew that I was representing him at the time that he gave that interview. And had he known that I was his lawyer, I certainly would have told him not to speak to the media, because he was represented by counsel and that anything he said could be used against him.”

Bond was set at a half million dollars for the two counts, but Detoto will try to get that reduced.

“And then we would go into the discovery process. The prosecutors will give me the complete offense report, any videotape that they have of Uriel, any statements that he made to, not just to law enforcement but to any news outlet. It’s out intention to enter a plea of not guilty, and we’ll just go on fighting the case.”

Landeros faces a maximum 10 years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, Vance Muse with the Menil Collection says the Picasso masterpiece has been undergoing extensive restoration.

“The painting was taken down the hall, was rushed down the hall, removed from the frame, and our chief conservator Brad Epley began work on it immediately. It has faired very, very well, the work is ongoing.”

He says the painting will be returned for viewing sometime this year.