A man was arrested early Sunday at the Whitney Museum of American Art after he spray-painted graffiti on a blank wall at the Jeff Koons retrospective during a 36-hour event to close the popular exhibit.
The man, Christopher Johnson, 33, of Manhattan, was arrested on charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti, possession of a graffiti instrument and criminal nuisance, the police said. He was taken into custody by police after he struggled with the museum’s security guards.
The incident occurred just after midnight during the museum’s around-the-clock event, the last opportunity for visitors to see the controversial show. Witnesses said it took place on the fourth floor near Mr. Koons’s “Hanging Heart” sculpture, around the same time that the curator Scott Rothkopf was engaged in an impromptu question and answer session nearby about how the show was put together.
A video posted on Instagram shows the man, who was wearing a tan jacket and boots, spraying several letters on to the wall as visitors stood watching. He then puts the spray can back into his jacket and walks away.
Mr. Rothkopf and Adrian Hardwicke, the director of visitor experience for the museum, huddled near the wall to see if there was any damage to the sculpture. Mr. Hardwicke said no art work had been damaged and the museum would stay open for the rest of the event.
It was not the first graffiti incident at the Koons exhibit, which opened in June. In August, a man splashed a red substance on a blank gallery wall on the third floor of the museum near the artist’s “Rabbit” sculpture. The man was removed by police, and no art was damaged.
The weekend marathon of the exhibit, the final one to take place at the current building before the museum opens a new building downtown next year, will end at 11 p.m. on Sunday. The artist’s works will then move to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Guggenheim Bilbao.
The exhibit featured Mr. Koons’s shiny sculptures, framed posters and glossy paintings, along with household appliances and children’s toys. The art critic Roberta Smith called it a “gripping show” that “chronicles a sculptural career that is singular for its profusion of color, crafts and materials.”