A couple in South Korea accused of damaging artwork by American graffiti artist JonOne said they had mistakenly thought they were allowed to daub paint on the piece as "participatory art", the head of the exhibition said on Friday.
The 240cm by 700cm untitled artwork is estimated to be worth as much as US$500,000 and was painted by JonOne in 2016 in front of an audience in Seoul.
Paint cans and brushes from the live performance are moved with the artwork, including to its current location at a gallery in Lotte World Mall, and are displayed on the ground in front of the painting and considered part of the artwork.
According to exhibition staff, on Sunday CCTV cameras captured a young man and woman picking up some of the paint and splattering and rubbing it on the artwork.
Police reviewed the CCTV footage before arresting the couple at the mall. They were later released, said head of exhibition Kang Wook, adding that the gallery had decided not to file charges because it appeared to be an honest mistake.
"They thought they were allowed to do that as participatory art and made a mistake," he said. "We are currently in discussions with the artist about whether to restore it."
After the incident the gallery put up a wire fence and additional signs saying "Do Not Touch".
Some visitors were seen taking pictures of the damaged artwork on Friday and Kang said that inquiries about the show had increased after the incident.