The National Arts Centre has handed surveillance video to Ottawa police after vandals defaced a statue of late jazz icon Oscar Peterson early Tuesday morning.

Rosemary Thompson, the centre's director of communications, says the video shows two young people spraying the bronze figure outside the centre sometime after midnight.


Ruth Abernethy oversaw the installation of her Oscar Peterson sculpture outside the National Arts Centre in 2010. ((Kate Porter/CBC))

"They had a spray can and they sprayed his eyes with golden paint," Thompson said.

"We love Oscar. He is a beloved statue. He's an icon of Canadian culture and probably one of the greatest jazz pianists in the world and we're sorry that this has happened," Thompson said.

Thompson tweeted a photo just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, saying the statue had been cleaned off and all that remained were some final touches.

She said they're not sure of a motive and don't expect any permanent damage has been done.

On Wednesday, the statue was back to normal.

  • On mobile? Click here to see a photo of the Oscar Peterson sculpture back to normal.

Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy created the 600-kilogram tribute to Peterson in 2010. The NAC raised $300,000 in private donations to pay for it.

It is installed in one of the centre's exterior walls with a space for visitors to sit down next to Peterson on the piano bench. 

Peterson, who grew up in Montreal, died in December 2007 at age 82 after a 65-year career.