Oscar Wilde’s Lipstick-Covered Tomb | Via

The practice started in the late 1990s, when somebody decided to leave a lipstick kiss on the tomb. Since then lipstick kisses and hearts have been joined by a rash of red graffiti containing expressions of love, such as: “Wilde child we remember you”, “Keep looking at the stars” and “Real beauty ends where intellect begins”. Kissing Oscar’s tomb on the Paris tourist circuit has become a cult pastime.

A fine of €9,000 ($12,000) was imposed on anyone caught kissing or damaging the historical monument, but it had no effect. It was hard to catch people in the act, and most culprits were tourists who were long gone before the police could bring them to court. Appeals from Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland to stop the practice also fell on deaf ears. A plaque asking fans to respect the tomb instead of defacing it went in vain.

Meanwhile, those greasy red lipstick stains seeped into the stone making it harder and harder to clean. Every cleaning eroded a layer of stone rendering it even more porous, so the next cleaning had to go even deeper and wear away the stone even more.