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‘Bored’ Security Guard Ruins $1 Million Painting By Drawing Eyes On It

Photo: Twitter
Original painting and damaged painting side by side

A newly-hired guard at the Yeltsin Centre in Russia is finally facing charges after defacing a valuable painting on his first day at work.

The executive director of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center in Ekaterinburg said in a statement that the security guard had worked for a private security company and was now fired.

They did not, however, identify who the security guard was that had vandalized the painting.

The security guard drew a set of eyes on the painting out of boredom.

Anna Leporskaya’s “Three Figures” is a valuable piece of abstract art that was painted between the years of 1932 and 1934, and is insured for 75 million rubles, or about 1.3 million U.S. dollars.

Anna Leporskaya was a Soviet avant-garde artist during her life.

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While many of her paintings, including “Three Figures,” are usually kept at the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, “Three Figures” had been on loan at the Yetsin Center temporarily.

It had been put on display at the Yeltsin Center for an abstract art exhibition when the vandalism had occurred.

The security guard apparently had a problem with Leporskaya’s abstract style because he drew eyes onto two of the notably eye-less and featureless people she had painted.

According to Anna Reshetkina, the exhibition’s curator, the security guard had drawn on the eyes with a “Yeltsin Center-branded pen.”

The security guard, at the very least, did not apply much pressure when he defaced the painting, according to Ivan Petrov, who broke the story in The Art Newspaper Russia.

This means that, while there is still serious damage, it at least did not completely cut through the paint strokes that Anna Leporkaya had so created so meticulously, 90 years ago.

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Also, following the incident, the Yeltsin Center has installed protective screens over the other exhibition works, to keep such an event from occurring again.

After all, it probably doesn’t look too great to the art world if a famous painting is vandalized in their art gallery, with their company pen, no less.

The vandalized painting was discovered in the Yeltsin Center on Dec. 7.

Two visitors attending the exhibition on the evening of Dec. 7 went to the employees of the gallery with their concerns at the sight of the painting.

The gallery acted, removing the canvas from the exhibition, and sending it back to its usual home in Tretyakov Gallery ahead of time.

Upon arrival, they held a meeting of the restoration council, examining the damages as well as the possible cost for restoring it to its former glory.

They decided that it should probably amount to around 250 thousand rubles, or over three thousand U.S. dollars. It’s a good thing the pen markings were not deep, otherwise that cost might have looked very different!

It took a while for the vandal to face charges.

Surprisingly, even though he drew on a million dollar painting, at first the department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation ran an investigation and originally decide on Dec. 20 that they would not make it a criminal case.

Due to the relative small cost of reparations, they claimed that there were no signs of a crime occurring.

However, come January, the Ministry of Culture sent a complaint on this decision, with a request to charge the vandal for “destruction or damage to objects of cultural heritage,” according to the Art Newspaper Russia.

Now the police have an investigation open on the case, and the vandalism suspect could face a fine and up to three months in prison.

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Amanda Hartmann is a writer and editorial intern at YouTango who writes on topics such as news and entertainment.