A man dressed as an employee steals a picture of a Crimean landscape in a Moscow museum | Culture

A man dressed as an employee steals a picture of a Crimean landscape in a Moscow museum | Culture


In the eyes of the guards and workers of the Tretyakov Gallery, a man disguised as an employee of the museum has stolen this Sunday a picture of the Russian landscape artist Arjip Kuindzhi. The stolen canvas is Ai-Petri. Crimea, painted in 1908, and represents the mountains of the same name located on the peninsula that Russia was annexed by Ukraine in 2014. The police are investigating the case and have not yet given details of whether it is a robbery or rather a kidnapping. In the networks, there are many who talk about the fact that after the abduction a political action is perceived.

The painting has disappeared before the sight of numerous visitors, who took advantage of Sunday to visit the Tretyakov Gallery, considered the most important museum in Moscow; with an outstanding collection of Russian art. Among the paintings exhibited these days was Ai-Petri. Crimea, of impressionist style. "A man who looked like an employee of the museum walked quietly to Kuindzhi's canvas, picked it up, took it out of the frame and left," a source told Interfax news agency. Other visitors offered similar testimonies.

The museum staff discovered what had happened a while later, but the frame was already on the floor, empty, and the thief was outside the gallery. An accomplice was waiting for him in a car outside, as the police told the Russian agencies. The authorities are doing a robot portrait of the suspect and have included the box in the international list of stolen objects to try to prevent its sale.

"I do not know what the purpose of the thieves is, this is a question for them." The image was secured for the sum of 12 million rubles [unos 160.000 euros]. However, the amount of insurance is always significantly lower than in the market, "said Vladimir Gusev, director of the Russian Museum, Interfax.The Tretiakov Gallery has in its catalog with other important tables, such as Portrait of a girl with peaches, by Serov, or Holy Trinity, by Andri Rublev.

The Tetriakov gallery in Moscow, where the theft took place, last November.
The Tetriakov gallery in Moscow, where the theft took place, last November. REUTERS

Arjip Kuindzhi was born in Mariupol (now Ukraine) just 176 years ago and became one of the Russia's most famous landscape painters. Since October 6, some of his works – some 170, the best – were exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery in a temporary exhibition that ends on February 17. The stolen painting, created between 1898 and 1908, represents a mountain landscape of one of the most famous tourist attractions in Crimea: Ai-Petri. The canvas was brought to Moscow from the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg.

For the Tretyakov Gallery -considered the second most important museum in Russia, after the Hermitage, in St. Petersburbo-, the theft of Kuindzhi's painting is the second serious incident in less than a year: in May 2018, a visitor stabbed the painting 'Ivan the Terrible' (also known as "Ivan the Terrible kills his son"), of Ilya Repin. The man, who later claimed to be drunk, broke the glass that protected the canvas with a metallic object and hit him. The Ministry of Culture has already declared that it will carry out an inspection of the museum's security measures.

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