Vandals daub black paint on art gallery displaying Rolf Harris paintings after sex crimes arrest

Rolf Harris was arrested over alleged sex crimes
Rolf Harris was arrested over alleged sex crimes

Police are hunting vandals who daubed black paint on the window of an art gallery which is still displaying Rolf Harris paintings.

Officers were called after paint was splashed across the outside of the Triton Gallery in Torquay, Devon.

The shop was still displaying the veteran entertainer’s artwork in its front window despite his arrest for alleged sex crimes.

Rolf Harris was arrested over alleged sex crimes
Rolf Harris was arrested over alleged sex crimes

Staff say they first received angry threats from a member of the public who insisted they take the artwork down.

They refused but when they arrived at work Tuesday they found the window covered with spray paint to obscure the Australian’s work.

Triton gallery owner David Phelps said he was unfazed by the vandalism and would continue to sell paintings by Harris.

Mr Phelps said: “Someone has put black paint on the window. It is only superficial and has been removed.

“I don’t think my staff are perturbed by what’s happened and I am not worried at all.

“We are going to continue to sell Rolf Harris’ paintings. They are continuing to sell well throughout the country irrespective of the allegations.

“I have checked with the publishers who have over 60 galleries across the country and they have not had any incidents like this anywhere else.

“Everyone is welcome to their opinion, but the person who has done this is in a massive minority.

“His actions do not reflect the opinions of members of the public who are coming in here.”

Harris, 83, was arrested last week over historical allegations of sexual offences in relation to Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree investigation.

The inquiry was launched to probe allegations against Jimmy Savile although cops say Harris’ arrest is unrelated to the former DJ.

Devon and Cornwall Police are treating the attack as criminal damage.

Police say the offender used his hands to smear paint over the Rolf Harris art gallery window, rather than use a spray can.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said the vandalism happened between 1am and 1.20am on Tuesday.

He said: “A male suspect has used his hands to smear black paint over the shop window before making off from the scene.

“Damage has been estimated at £300 as specialist cleaning was required. The man is now being sought by police.”

Torquay town centre manager Rachael Weaver said: “I was saddened to hear about the attack on Triton Galleries.

“The gallery is an excellent feature to our harbour-side and does not deserve to be the victim of vandalism by any vigilantes.

“Rolf Harris has yet to stand trial over the allegations, it’s not an excuse to commit a mindless act. This attack would not of directly affected Rolf but a town centre business.

“Torquay is fortunate to have excellent CCTV coverage throughout the town centre so hopefully the person responsible will be caught.”

Triton Galleries, which have several galleries across the South West, list Rolf Harris as one of numerous top international artists whose paintings and drawings they stock.

Fifteen of his works are currently advertised, including Reflection Eilean Donal Castle, listed at £950, and Single Gum Tree and Devil’s Marbles, priced at £575.

The gallery’s website says: “We go to great lengths to source our artwork and our current portfolio includes many leading international names, award-winners and the most exciting new talents which include Rolf Harris OBE.”


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