Monday, April 18, 2005
A priceless tapestry of the Queen commissioned to mark the launch of the QE2 is believed to have been thrown overboard by drunken crewmen during a mid-Atlantic staff party. Two other tapestries were damaged. The three large works, all showing scenes from the ship’s history, were by the Swedish-born artist Helena Barynina Hernmarck, and hung in the liner’s stairwell. A portrait of the Queen was also badly damaged during the wrecking spree, which left the cruise liner with thousands of pounds worth of damage. Three crew members were detained onboard and arrested when the ship docked at Southampton on Saturday at the end of a three-month world cruise. The men, one aged 23 and the others 22, were released on bail yesterday. A spokesman for Cunard, the liner’s owner, confirmed that the three men had been dismissed. Last night, police appealed for anyone who may find the tapestry to contact them. The vandalism, which took place at about 2:30am last Thursday, also resulted in damage to the ship’s entertainment area, toilets and a lifeboat. A spokesman for Cunard, said: "We can confirm that an incident occurred onboard during the night of 14 April. Three crew members were subsequently dismissed." Inspector Graham Norman of Hampshire Police said: "The three crew members were held in custody yesterday in Southampton and they have now been bailed to 26 May pending inquiries." He said the chances of recovering the tapestry were "small". The damage followed a staff party held on the crew deck of the vessel as it made its way back from the Caribbean. Hernmarck, 64, was a rising star in the art world when her work was chosen to grace the walls of the Cunard flagship. Her work is shown in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum of American Art in Washington DC and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The artist, who lives in the United States, was awarded Sweden’s prestigious Prins Eugen Medal in 1999 and elected Swedish American of the Year in 2000. On Saturday the 70,327-ton QE2 docked alongside the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton on their first UK visit of the year. It was only the second time the two ships had been in their home port together.