Art conservators completed the restoration of the section of Berlin Wall outside the Baker Institute for Public Policy following its defacement in an act of vandalism two weeks prior. According to conservator Robert Pringle, the process cost $10,000 to $12,000. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson confirmed the vandals are responsible for payment.
“[The vandals are] some knuckleheads — I don't guess they're still here."
On Friday, Jan. 13, Rice students woke up to the words “Trump 16!” and “ALOHA” spray-painted in blue across the Berlin Wall, obscuring the original message of “love” and “Salut mes amis.” The vandalism remained in view until Rice University employees covered the wall at 2 p.m. and the wall remained covered until restoration began.
Judith, an employee of the local art conservator business Robert Pringle Sculpture Conservation, said the particular paint the vandals used made the removal process more difficult.
“It's a really hard-to-remove graffiti, so it's a slow go,” Judith, who did not give her last name, said. “It's sort of for us a labor of love. We'll get it back as close as we can to how it was."
Judith said Robert Pringle Sculpture Conservation has restored the Berlin Wall for Rice in the past in order to enhance and seal any of its fading historic graffiti. She said the conservators will be removing the vandal’s graffiti, as well as restoring the graffiti the vandal damaged and sealing the wall.
With regards to the vandals, Judith said she hoped any students who were responsible were no longer enrolled at the university.
“[The vandals are] some knuckleheads — I don't guess they're still here,” Judith said. “But also it's just a case of, you know, if the families want to pay enough."
In addition to the Berlin Wall, the Moody Center Collaborative’s art installation and a dormitory wall of Hanszen College were defaced by the vandals.
Hutchinson said the vandals were Rice students caught by the Rice University Police Department and he could not comment on whether the university was pursuing criminal charges. Because the vandals were students, Rice’s policy of confidentiality applies to any proceedings of Student Judicial Programs, which is responsible for adjudicating breaches of the Student Code of Conduct.
“By entering Rice University, students accept several responsibilities...to refrain from misusing or harming property which belongs to the University or members of this community,” the Code states.