Climate Activists Throw Soup at Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’


Wilhelmine Preussen

Phoebe P. and Anna H. throwing soup at expensive Van Gogh painting.

Hanais Karmand

On October 14, 2022, at approximately 11 a.m., two women of the Just Stop Oil organization, Phoebe Plummer and Anna Holland, threw two cans of Heinz tomato soup at a glass-covered Van Gogh sunflower painting.

The Van Gogh Sunflower painting is worth forty million dollars and is held in the London National Gallery. It is one of the top 10 most expensive Van Gogh paintings. Phoebe and Anna both arrived at the London National Gallery with two cans of Heinz tomato soup and a small tube of glue. The soup was thrown onto the forty-million-dollar painting, shocking the whole world.

As they continued these shenanigans, more and more paparazzi gathered around the scene. This caused Plummer and Holland to pull out their glue and unexpectedly glue their hands under Van Gogh’s sunflower painting. During this time, they were videotaped saying, “What is worth more, art or life?” The point that they were trying to get across was for their prime minister to get rid of fossil fuels and use more renewable energy. Members of the “Just Stop Oil” organization believe that human life is more important than expensive paintings.

In an interview posted on Tiktok, Phoebe Plummer states that none of what she did was meant to harm the painting itself, yet it was meant to spread awareness about the fossil fuel industry. The painting was not damaged, but the frame of the painting was. This got a lot of media attention, making the Tiktok go viral with approximately 13 million views. Twitter user, Kelly Daughterty, comments, “Trying to make a point about families not being able to heat a tin of soup and people starving. While wasting two tins of soup. That also happens to be one of the most expensive brands you can buy. Great logic.”

Both Phoebe and Anna were taken into custody for criminal damage and aggravated trespass. An article published by CNBC, reads, “The climate activists who threw soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting on Saturday appeared in a London court on charges of criminal damages, several outlets reported.” Ironically, both parties pleaded not guilty. They are set to go on trial again.