Brought about by aggression, the violation of works of art can be the individual gesture of a vandal or a collective result of war. Profit-seeking forms of vandalism also cause extensive loss or damage to art objects, such as the destruction of buildings and settings of an artistic nature and their replacement by inaesthetic ones within urban development. The pillaging of historical sites such as ancient tombs and the hacking to pieces of stone carvings for easier illicit transport show the extent of profit-seeking vandalism.
Art vandalism is a universal and perennial problem, practised long before the Vandals sacked Rome in 455 AD. Historically, the greatest vandalism have been perpetrated by armies and partisans in the service of gods and princes.
A recent example occurred China. In 1966, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution commenced its effort to root out old ideas and values, and to achieve a spiritual regeneration spearheaded by youth - the Red Guard. In their often uncontrolled hunt for vestiges of 'bourgeois' culture, the Red Guard destroyed or removed works of art and libraries, chiefly those held in private hands.