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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Beckham exhibition photo defaced
Gallery attendant with the defaced David Beckham picture
The portrait has been taken down until another can be printed
A portrait of David Beckham, which features in a photographic exhibition of great footballers, has been defaced.

The words "you loosers" were scrawled in red pen across the five-foot high picture of the England captain at the Royal Academy of Arts' Fifa 100 show.

His photograph, worth 7,500, was said to be among the most popular of the top 125 players chosen by superstar Pele.

Show curator David Grob said the graffiti was "enormously irritating" and had been reported to the police.

The words "Beckham and Meier, you loosers" were also scribbled on a wall opposite a picture of Pele.


The graffiti is an apparent reference to Swiss referee Urs Meier who disallowed a last-minute England goal in their quarter-final against Portugal.

The misspelling of 'losers' may have been a reference to Rebecca Loos, whose claims of an affair with Beckham made headlines earlier this year.

You do not expect people to act like football hooligans - it is very frustrating
Curator David Grob

Mr Grob said staff at the exhibition site at 6, Burlington Gardens had made a complaint of criminal damage to the police.

He said: "Somebody has gone in this morning and written across the Beckham image 'You loosers' and in another room they have written 'Beckham and Meier, you loosers'.

"They have written it in red felt pen. The picture is a write-off. We have reported it to the police and we will have to get another one printed.

Biggest seller

"It is enormously irritating. We hoped the Academy would inspire everybody to good behaviour.

"You do not expect people to act like football hooligans - it is very frustrating."

The picture, which showed 29-year-old England captain David Beckham standing in a hotel corridor holding a football, was taken by leading Scandinavian photographer Mark Hom.

Mr Grob said the photo was "definitely our biggest seller", with 10 limited edition prints bought at 7,500 and about 30 smaller prints priced at 335 each.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Academy of Arts said the portrait had been removed from the exhibition, which marks 100 years of Fifa, while a replacement was printed.

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