Cleaning Woman Accidently Scrubbed Away Million-Dollar Sculpture

janitor cleans up ruins sculptureEver since Marcel Duchamp submitted a urinal to a 1917 exhibition in New York, under the title "Fountain," many artworks have born a close resemblance to trash. Now one has actually been cleaned up: Martin Kippenberger's $1.1 million "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling."

The sculpture, which consists of a tower of painted slats, above a rubber trough, painted to look as if it once contained a pool of dirty rainwater, was on loan to the Ostwall museum in Dortmund, western Germany. A woman from the cleaning agency, which instructs its employees to stay eight centimeters away from the art, scrubbed up the trough, reports The Associated Press.

Kippenberger died in 1997, at the age of 44, so isn't around to decide whether to repair the piece or not. The artist would probably be surprised that his work is so expensive; as an enfant terrible on the German art scene, his work rarely fetched more than $10,000 at auction. But his reputation grew steadily after his death. In 2003, Kippenberger represented Germany at the Venice Biennale, and in October of this year his untitled 1990 "drunken" lantern sculpture sold for $2,095,000.

It's possible the artist would find the whole thing funny. After all, his ouevre includes a gas station in Brazil (which he bought and renamed after the prominent Nazi official Martin Bormann); a framed pair of underpants called "Japanese Vending Machine"; a giant crucified frog clutching a beer stein; and a dressed-up life-size sculpture of himself, faced to the wall, titled: "Martin, Into the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself."

The owner of the scrubbed-up sculpture has decided to leave it on display, while insurers assess the damage.

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