Copenhagen's Little Mermaid vandalised again

A protest against whaling the Faroe Islands saw the iconic statue defaced by vandals

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid vandalised again

[ Jens Dresling/AP/Press Association Images]

Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue was vandalised by animal rights activists protesting against whaling, local police said.

The statue of the Hans Christian Andersen character, who sits perched on a rock beside the Copenhagen coastline, was daubed with red paint on Tuesday night.

“Danmark [sic.], defend the whales of the Faroe Islands,” was spray painted onto the ground beside the statue, a message left by the protestors for Danish authorities and the many visitors who make their way to the statue every day.

The Twitter account of the Copenhagen Police confirmed the defacing had taken place, posting: “Good morning out there. The Little Mermaid has been exposed to vandalism (red paint), we are on the case. Have a good day.”

As a self-governing archipelago in the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands has a long cultural tradition of grindadrap, where pilot whales are coerced into fjords and lanced with long knives.

Carl Christian Ebbesen of the populist Danish People’s Party told national broadcaster DR that he was “offended” by the vandals’ act.

“National treasures like this should be left well alone. Regardless of whether it’s politically-motivated vandalism, this is out of order,” the chair of Copenhagen Municipality’s Culture & Leisure Committee said.

“I am not going to get involved in what political opinions people have. Vandalising the Little Mermaid is as stupid as you can possibly get.”

As one of the most recognisable statues in the world, the Little Mermaid has a long history of being manhandled by vandals; unveiled in 1913, she was beheaded for the first time in 1964 by Marxist members of the Situationists, with the head never recovered.


In 1984, two men successfully cut off the statues right arm, returning it two days later.

The replacement head was decapitated in 1998, with the culprits never caught. Her head was left at a local TV station. This followed a failed attempt in 1990, which left the Little Mermaid with an 18cm gash in her neck.

The statue has been covered in paint several times since the 1960s, as well as knocked off its base by explosives in 2003. When the sculpture was recovered from the harbour waters, holes had been blasted into her wrist and knee.

In recent years, the Little Mermaid has been dressed in a burqa in protest of Turkey’s application to join the EU, as well as defaced with a sex toy on International Women’s Day.

“There is no doubt that video surveillance is a tool that police should consider to ensure that a national treasure like the Little Mermaid is not subjected to this type of vandalism,” said Carl Christian Ebbesen.

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