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'Bored' gallery guard draws eyes on Russian painting during first day on the job

A “bored” security guard who drew eyes on a valuable painting during his first day on the job at a Russian gallery faces up to three months in prison, police have said.

Anna Leporskaya’s avant garde artwork Three Figures, which was painted between 1932 and 1934 and depicts featureless faces, was worth £740,000.

The painting was on display at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre in the city of Yekaterinburg when the new employee scrawled eyes on it with a ballpoint pen.

The guard was fired after one day in the job, the centre’s executive director, Alexander Drozdov, said.


He would not identify the man but said he was from a private security company.

‘Lapse of sanity’

Anna Reshetkin, the exhibition’s curator, said his actions had been blamed on “a lapse of sanity”.

The vandalism was first noticed on 7 December last year by two visitors, who alerted gallery staff.

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The guard is under investigation by police and could have to pay a fine or face three months in prison.

Restoration experts estimate that repairing the damage will cost £3,390.

For the meantime, the painting has been returned to the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, which had loaned it originally.

This is not the first time a painting has been defaced in Russia.

A man was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in 2019 after attacking a 1885 painting of Ivan the Terrible by Ilya Repin with a metal pole.

The same piece was also vandalised more than 100 years earlier in 1913 by a mentally insane man who slashed three times it with a knife.


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