‘Just Stop Oil’ climate activists throw soup over priceless Van Gogh ‘Sunflowers’ masterpiece

A pane of glass prevented “Just Stop Oil” environmental activists with from destroying a priceless work of art with a can of Heinz tomato soup.

On Friday, two British girls barely out of their teens entered London’s National Gallery, where they attempted to deface a still life of sunflowers painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888 before gluing themselves to the wall.

“Thanks to skyrocketing gas prices, millions of British families won’t be able to afford to heat a can of soup this winter,” the organization posted, before asking for donations to fund its activism.

The 134-year-old painting was protected by a glazed frame which incurred “some minor damage” according to a statement by the National Gallery.

Just Stop Oil said they had taken this into account.

Phoebe Plummer, 21, and her 20-year-old accomplice, Anna Holland, were arrested amid gasps and exclamations from astonished onlookers.

The act comes amid widespread anger across the UK in the Conservatives’ government that has proposed a raft of new legislation expected to undermine the social safety net and further widen economic inequality at a time when many may be forced to choose between heating and eating.

Polls are predicting an unprecedented election wipeout to Labour after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s radical budget plan nearly triggered a wave of bankruptcies among pension funds holding rapidly depreciating government bonds

On Friday, prime minister Liz Truss—picked by some 80,000 Tory party members to replace disgraced predecessor Boris Johnson—sacked her number two and reversed some of his key spending plans in a desperate attempt to keep her job.

Government attempts to criminalize protests

Despite the highly volatile situation, Just Stop Oil’s message did not appear to resonate with Brits.

Many asked what did a long-dead Dutch artist ever do to the climate to deserve desecrating his paintings, while others argued the two activists should have remained glued to the wall as part of a permanent exhibit.

It also managed to unite people from both the left and the right of the political spectrum in condemning the act. 

“Effing morons — this is not the way to protest,” wrote former women’s tennis star Martina Navratilova

Meanwhile conservative activist Ian Miles Cheong had nothing but sarcasm for the Gen Z protesters: “I am glad they managed to stop oil once and for all with this stunt. Well done!” 

It’s also likely going to reignite a debate in the UK over more draconian forms of punishment for performative demonstration.

The former home secretary under Johnson, Priti Patel, had sought to criminalize such acts, while successor Suella Braverman is considered just as much of a hardliner.

Art historian Ruth Millington told MailOnline the Just Stop Oil protest is unlikely to effect real change: “Attacking one of the world’s most loved paintings, which I would call priceless, will not gain these protestors public support.” 

Financially it doesn’t appear to have helped. As of press time, only $18,579 has been raised for their $56,000 target. 

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