£740,000 painting is ruined after security guard caught eyes on faceless figures in Russian gallery
A painting worth £740,000 has been destroyed after a ‘bored’ security guard drew eyes to faceless figures depicted in a Russian gallery’s artwork.
On his first day on the job, the security guard had drawn two pairs of eyes with a ballpoint pen on the painting “Three Figures” (1932-1934) by artist Anna Leporskaya at an exhibition of abstract art at the Yeltsin Center in the city of Yekaterinburg, Western Russia.
The painting was defaced by an unnamed but believed to be 60-year-old security guard who worked for a private security company, the Yeltsin Center said in a statement.
ORIGINAL: Painting “Three Figures” (1932-1934) by artist Anna Leporskaya
The painting was defaced by a security guard who added two pairs of eyes to the painting
Two visitors enjoying an art exhibition titled ‘The World as Non-Objectivity’. The Birth of a New Art’ at the Yeltsin Center spotted additional details of two of the three figures in the 1930s painting on December 7 last year, reports the Art Newspaper.
The painting, on loan from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, was damaged by the security guard after he reportedly got bored on the first day. He has since been fired.
The identity of the suspect has only now been revealed as a security guard by the Yeltsin Center, although they did not name the worker.
The work was then sent to the gallery in Moscow the following day and was inspected by an art restorer.
Police have now opened a vandalism investigation, with a £395 (74.9 million Russian roubles) dinner and a one-year prison labor sentence.
The painting is being restored, the damage, according to the restoration expert of the State Tretyakov Gallery, can be eliminated without any long-term damage to the artwork.
The damage to the paint and the cost of the restoration was estimated at £2,470 (250,000 RUB).
It is not known how much the painting is worth, but it was insured with the insurance company Alfa for £740,000 (74.9 million rubles).
It was reported that the company where the security guard worked paid for the catering.
The artist Leporskaya, born in 1900 and died aged 82 in 1982, was a pupil of the famous Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich. She also worked with other avant-garde artists, including Nikolai Suetin and Lev Yudin.
She is primarily known as a master of artistic porcelain. Besides the Tretyakov Gallery, his works are widely represented in the collection of the Russian Museum.
Damage to the painting was estimated at 250,000 RUB (2,470 GBP).
It is not known how much the painting is worth, but it was insured with the insurance company Alfa for 74.9 million rubles (740,000 GBP).
It has been reported that the company is paying for the restoration.
The Yeltsin Center said in a statement on Tuesday: “We inform you that during the investigation the person who painted the eyes on the figures in the painting by Anna Leporskaya has been identified – this is an employee of a private security organization that performs security activities of the Yeltsin Center.
‘ Let us recall that on December 7, 2021, during the demonstration of the exhibition ‘ The world as non-objectivity. The Birth of a New Art” in the Art Gallery of the Yeltsin Center underwent a painting by Anna Leporskaya “Three Figures” (1932-1934) from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery.
“The harm was done with a ballpoint pen.”
The Center added: “The work was inspected by the restorer of the State Tretyakov Gallery the next day and sent to Moscow. The painting is being restored, the damage, according to the expert, can be eliminated without consequences for the work of art.
“The Yeltsin Center refrained from commenting on this prosecution situation, as an internal investigation into the incident and interaction with law enforcement was ongoing.”