A cleaning woman at an Italian gallery accidentally threw away thousands of dollars of art by New York modernist Paul Branca when she mistook his crumpled newspaper, cardboard, and cookie installation scattered across the floor for garden-variety trash.

The pieces, estimated to be worth around $15,000, were apparently intended to make viewers think of the environment.

"We are obviously very sorry for what happened," city marketing commissioner Antonio Maria Vasile said.

The gallery says they do not blame the cleaning woman, who "did not realise she had thrown away two works and their value."

According to the BBC, this is not the first time modern art has been mistaken for trash and tossed — a museum guard mistakenly tidied up Tracy Emin's trash-filled "My Bed" exhibit in 1999; a 2001 Damien Hirst installation of beer bottles, coffee cups and cigarettes was mistakenly trashed; and, a Tate Britain employee accidentally threw away a bag of paper and cardboard by German artist Gustav Metzger in 2004.

[image via Facebook]