Did fans of a rightwing vegan chef vandalise Berlin museums?

An oily substance was sprayed on art and artefacts at three museums on the Day of German Unity. Police are looking for suspects ... and a motive.

Looking for clues.
Looking for clues.imago images/Bertrand

Berlin-Supporters of vegan rightwing activist Attila Hildman are suspected of vandalising at least 70 artworks and artefacts at three museums on Museum Island on 3 October, according to widespread German press reports.

Unknown suspects spilled or sprayed an "oily substance" on items at the Pergamon Museum, Altes National Galerie and the Neues Museum. The crime only came to light when investigators asked for the public's help in identifying the culprits.

"Did you or your companions notice any suspicious persons? If so, how? Would you be able to recognise them on photographs?" criminal investigators asked in a note sent to select visitors and quoted by the Tagesspiegel.

Hildmann rose to fame over the last decade as a champion of vegan cuisine but cracks began to show in 2017 when he seemingly threatened critics of his Charlottenburg restaurant by posing with a shotgun on social media. He has been a central figure in protests against corona restrictions and claimed on his channel on encrypted messaging app Telegram that the Pergamon Museum was the centre of a "global Satanist scene" and of "corona criminals".  According to the vegan cook, the museum - situated across the street from Chancellor Angela Merkel's private apartment - houses the very "throne of Satan" itself.

Despite the reported links to Hildmann, police have not yet identified a motive, Tagesspiegel reported.