Vandal who slashed $3 million artwork is painting owner’s own SON

Cops hunting man who slashed $3million rare artwork at Aspen gallery reveal the prime suspect is the painting owner’s SON

  • Nicholas Morley, 40, flew from his home in London, England, to Denver under an assumed name on May 1, and visited Opera Gallery, Aspen, police say
  • Footage shows a man in sunglasses entering the gallery and slashing the $2.95 million Christopher Wool painting twice
  • Artwork belonged to Harold Morley, 74, of Barbados, through a trust called Fallowfield Ltd
  • Investigators were able to tie it to son Nicholas, who was also convicted 10 years ago of crashing into and killing an elderly couple during the Gumball 3000 Rally
  • Authorities are deciding whether to pursue extradition for Morley, who denies slashing the picture

The vandal who slashed a $3 million piece of art at an Aspen gallery has been revealed to be painting owner’s own son, the police say.

Nicholas Morley, 40, allegedly flew from his home in London, England, to Denver under an assumed name on May 1, 2017. 

The next day, he allegedly entered Opera Gallery, at the base of Aspen Mountain, at around 4.16 p.m, wearing sunglasses and a cap, and slashed the artwork before fleeing, authorities say. Two days later, he drove to the airport and flew back to the UK.

This is the moment a suspect, named by police as Nicholas Morley, slashed a $3 million piece of art at an Aspen gallery

Surveillance footage from the gallery shows a man in black jeans, a black jacket, a hat, sunglasses and a full beard, entering the building and propping the door open.

Within a few seconds, he rushed over to the Christopher Wool painting and cut it twice. A gallery employee appears but the slasher rushed for the door, grabbing the prop on the way out.

The work belonged to Harold Morley, 74, of Barbados, through a trust called Fallowfield Ltd, the Aspen Times reports.

Untitled 2004 was the sole item being sold on consignment at the time, listed for sale at $2.95 million. 


The work belonged to Harold Morley, 74, (left) of Barbados, through a trust called Fallowfield Ltd. His son Nicholas (right) is accused of slashing the picture

Investigators were able to tie his son, who was also convicted 10 years ago of crashing into and killing an elderly couple in the Gumball 3000 Rally car race in Macedonia, to the vandalism.

Nicholas Morley was charged, in his absence, with felony criminal mischief on Wednesday, for damage worth between $1,000 and $5,000 because it cost less than $2,500 to repair the multi million dollar painting.

‘He is the person charged with directly damaging this painting,’ Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham said Wednesday night.

Authorities are deciding whether to pursue extradition for Morley, who denies slashing the picture.

Surveillance footage from the gallery shows a man in black jeans, a black jacket, a hat, sunglasses and a full beard, entering the building and propping the door open

Within a few seconds, he rushed over to the Christopher Wool painting and cutting it twice. A gallery employee appears but the slasher rushed for the door

A similar piece of work by celebrated American artist Christopher Wool 

His father Harold appears to have tried to downplay the damage to his painting, saying the damage could be ‘easily restored’ and saying he had no plans to file an insurance claim.

‘It was only a minor incident,’ he said, according to the affidavit.

‘In the same vein the police investigation should be calmed down and they be quickly informed that Fallowfield are very relaxed about the whole affair since Wool is an appreciating asset and the repairs will be all but invisible,’ he added. 

In a letter to Opera Gallery, he requested that staff ‘play the whole affair down as over enthusiastic reporting,’ the affidavit states.

‘We could even put it up for sale now for $3.5m on the basis it is ‘famous,” Harold Morley wrote, according to the affidavit. ‘Since we are not making an insurance claim there is no reason why the recollection of the incident should not be eliminated as quickly as possible from staff and public.’

 

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