Child damages artwork, parents get bill for $132K

Story here.

An unsupervised child knocks over a piece of artwork when trying to climb on it, and the parents are shocked to get a bill from the insurance company for the damages.

The mother, who sounds like a real piece of work herself, claims her special snowflake was just trying to hug it when it fell on top of him. And that he was absolutely not unsupervised, they were just around the corner and down the hall (in other words, completely out of sight).

I’d would not be at all surprised if the family winds up filing a personal injury lawsuit. They don’t seem like the kind of people to take any responsibility for what happened.

That looks like an accident waiting to happen and possibly an attractive nuisance to boot. It’s a fragile, heavy attractive thing with no protection and unsecured in a public space where the visitors will include excitable children. No the child should not have been trying to climb the plinth and yes the parents should have been watching more closely but I’m not satisfied that makes it the parent’s fault. It also looks pretty obvious that the child wasn’t trying to be destructive but just wanted to get close to the pretty thing.

I pity the artist whose work was not displayed properly.

It sounds like everyone shares some part of the blame.

The child should have been supervised, and shouldn’t have been climbing on the art in the first place.

A large statue made mostly of glass should not be displayed in this manner, in a community center, no less; it should have been enclosed, or at least secured so it would be much harder to knock over.

And if I owned anything worth $132,000, I would sure as hell have it insured.

Time for the lawyers and insurance adjusters to sort it out, I guess.

It was insured. It was the insurance company that billed the parents. You don’t think insurance companies just eat the loss, do you?

The artist didn’t have it insured. It’s the city’s insurance company that’s billing the parents.

What Shoeless said.

It sounds to me like they’re just in shock. I’m willing to bet they feel awful about it, but just assumed the city’s insurance would take care of it and were surprised to get a bill that may effectively ruin them. The rest of the comments she made, I’m guessing, are just grabbing at straws hoping someone will back down.

As far as the bill she got, my WAG is that either her insurance company will cover it (then drop her) or if she gets a lawyer they can probably settle for a more reasonable amount. Say, $10,000 to be paid over few years, especially if the artist can repair it.
I don’t know much about bankruptcy, but I’d imagine if they don’t have any big assets (house, expensive car etc), the insurance company may know that if they attempt to force her to pay this huge bill, she could declare bankruptcy and they’ll get little to nothing.

I can really see fault all the way around.

The kid was NOT supervised, no matter what the parent said.

The statue was a hazard if it wasn’t secured down. If the kid had been killed our sympathies would probably be elsewhere.

The artist is the one valuing the work at $132K. Is his other work commanding such prices? It was in an exhibit and for sale. I wouldn’t think that Community Center art shows would attract high-priced talent.


Even if the artist had it insured, the parents would still get a bill from that insurance company.

If you’re going to call a place “Tomahawk Ridge Community Center” you need to have less fragile art installations. You need to have big-ass wood carvings and sculptures with lots of leather and steel and shit. There’s no place for flimsy, froofy glass frippery and other such trifling nonsense at a place whose name contains the word “Tomahawk.” The child should be forced to rip the heart out of a buffalo with his bare hands.

It sounds like it was secured, just not structurally sound enough for a kid to climb on/pull on. The article said the statue was in a closed area, obviously not closed enough.
Maybe the center should have put glass around it, but that would take away from the art and might be more expensive than they could afford.
The artist said he worked on it for several years, so he might be right about its value, but that is what assessors are for. I’m sure the parents won’t pay the full amount, but they should pay something. Letting a kid out of sight in a place like that - with artwork - is not supervising them. Teach them a good lesson.
When my kids were 5 they sure as hell diidn’t run around unsupervised.

Assuming the clips of video in the OP’s link are in order, then those kids make multiple passes past the statue, including what looks like being told by their father not to climb on/touch that exact statue. I’m totally in the camp of “What the heck were the parents thinking?”

I agree that it sounds like everyone in this story shares a bit of the blame, but this just cracked me up:

You can see a close-up image of the piece here -


It’s like a stained glass sculpture, with lots of little pieces of glass held by a frame. The boy’s lucky he wasn’t hurt.

I’m not sure that the stand in that image is the same as the one at the community center. Maybe it is. I’m sure all the art pieces at the community are secured to some extent, but “secured” doesn’t mean, “safe for young primates to climb on”.

The parents are completely at fault here. They aren’t even visible in the camera shot. It was no one else’s responsibility to watch the kids or childproof their building. It was their job to prevent their kids from treating the stationary objects like jungle gyms.

It’s an expensive lesson, but it’s one they needed to learn.

The parents should pay. They are responsible for the damage their child caused and therefore should have known better than to let him run around loose in a place with open art exhibits.

They’d have my sympathies if their child had done something that got himself killed but they would have been responsible for that as well.

Looking at the video, clearly the museums fault and they are lucky that the kid did not get harmed by their negligence, multiple kids are on that statue before this one goes there and basically does the same thing all other kids are doing.

I feel the opposite, the museum should be closed for safety reasons, not reopend till the staff is trained to either safeguard the works or secure them, and sued as they obviously have a pattern of letting children touch/hug this sculpture but had it so unsecured that it could be tipped over by a child. Having one parent in the mix telling their child not to do it (assumed) does not change the rest of the video, actually reinforces taht the museum is not doing that, and when one kid sees it others want to follow (this goes for adults also).

I find it distressful that kids were such exposed to this and am quite angry with the museum that they would allow this to happen.

Am I the only one who gets the impression that the kid was mostly interested in… ahem… certain parts of the female anatomy of that sculpture?

Put a lien on the kid’s future earnings.

Sometimes parents just have to pay for the damage that their kids cause. If a kid starts playing with matches and burns down a duplex, the parents are probably going to get sued by the landlord and neighboring tenants. I don’t see how this is different.

And they would be well justified in doing so. Perhaps you are familiar with the legal concept of an “attractive nuisance”? Usually it applies to swimming pools and trampolines and other yard equipment, but it can really apply to any dangerous object that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risks associated with that object. The museum has a certain obligation to display exhibits in such a way that a child cannot knock them down and potentially injure themselves or others.
In the meantime, I will post a couple of pictures of some various objects where if it wasn’t for my athleticism and split-second reflexes, my child would have damaged:
Lime Green Icicle Tower by Dale Chihuly
Prehistoric Elk at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh