A man accused of breaking into the Dallas Museum of Art overnight and destroying more than $5 million worth of irreplaceable artwork has told police he broke and had caused damage because he “got angry with his girlfriend”.
According to an arrest warrant obtained by NBC 5 on Thursday afternoon, a man identified by police as 21-year-old Brian Hernandez was apprehended late Wednesday night at the museum after forcing his way inside and destroying several objects.
The arrest document says Hernandez smashed the museum’s glass entrance with a metal chair around 9:40 p.m. and once inside, he intentionally damaged or destroyed artwork worth $5. $153,000, including several pots and statues.
A guard told police after a motion sensor was triggered that he and another guard went to investigate the lobby and found the man. The guards asked him what he was doing and he said “he got mad at his daughter so he broke in and started destroying property”.
The guard told Hernandez to sit on a bench while he called the police, which he did. This is where the police found him when they arrived shortly afterwards.
Police toured the museum with the director of security and noted that several art exhibits and crates had been destroyed.
Surveillance video reviewed by Dallas police and referenced in the arrest document said Hernandez used a stool to destroy at least two storefronts worth $17,000 each along with four rooms, a “Amphora Black Figure Panel 6th Century Greece“jar and a”Red-figure pyxis 450 BC.“jar which were both smashed. The jars, together, were valued at $5 million. A ceramic bowl,”Kylix Heracles and Nemeon Lion“, from 550 to 530 BCE and worth $100,000, and the statue of Caddo”Batah Kuhuh Alligator Gar Fish“, worth $10,000, were also destroyed.
“The items inside the display cases that were destroyed are rare ancient artifacts that are extremely valuable and one-of-a-kind,” police said in the affidavit.
Other items including a computer, telephone, bench and signage were also destroyed.
Police said final damage assessments inside the museum could change depending on the museum curator’s and insurer’s final assessment. Photos of the damaged and destroyed works have not yet been released.
“While we are devastated by this incident, we are grateful that no one was injured,” the museum said in a statement. “The safety of our staff and visitors, and the care and protection of the art in our stewardship, are our highest priorities.”
Hernandez was jailed at the Dallas County Jail for criminal mischief over $300,000 and is being held on $100,000 bond. Police said in an interview with Detectives Hernandez confessed to destroying the property. Prison records did not mention a lawyer.
Although some of the permanent collection galleries were closed due to the ongoing investigation, the Dallas Museum of Art was open to visitors Thursday.