Vladimir Umanets,a Russian artist and co-founder of the concept of 'Yellowism' , admitted to signing the Mark Rothko mural from his Seagram collection. He does not, however, believe that he has committed an act of vandalism, nor of defacement, and instead has said that the increased knowledge and awareness of 'Yellowism' were the motivations for his bizarre behaviour.
Umanets spoke to the Guardian last night (07,Oct,2012) and said that he believed his act will, in the long run, increase the value of the Rothko painting. He said ""I believe that if someone restores the [Rothko] piece and removes my signature the value of the piece would be lower but after a few years the value will go higher because of what I did." He doesn't consider his act a crime at all, and instead compared himself to Marcel Duchamp, the originator of Dadaist and surrealist movements, and whose work has also been pivotal in the rise of conceptual art. Umanets said "I didn't destroy the picture. I did not steal anything. There was a lot of stuff like this before. Marcel Duchamp signed things that were not made by him, or even Damien Hirst."
The defaced piece of work was from Rothko's Seagram collection, which was originally a commissioned set for a hotel restaurant. Rothko repealed the commission after having completed the project, objecting the prospect of only the very wealthy diners at the hotel being able to view them, and, as ABC reports, he returned the commission money. Rothko was quoted in Rothko by Jacob Baal-Teshuva, saying that his aim in the commission was to paint 'something that will ruin the appetite of every[one] who ever eats in that room. If the restaurant would refuse to put up my murals that would be the ultimate compliment. But they wont. People can stand anything these days'.
Umanets, deliberately or not, therefore seems to have chosen the right artist and the right art to deface. Perhaps his added extra will make the paintings more palatable.