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'Bored' museum guard ruins a pricey Russian painting by drawing eyes on it

By AYIE LICSI Published Feb 10, 2022 10:03 pm

Have you ever messed up on the first day of a new job? On his first day working for the Yeltsin Center in Russia, a "bored" museum guard at a Russian gallery ruined a pricey painting by drawing eyes on it.

The security guard, who is in his 60s, drew two pairs of eyes with a ballpen on artist Anna Leporskaya's Three Figures after he became bored while on the job. The painting is an abstract work depicting three faceless people and was on loan from Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery.

The original Three Figures painting.

Two visitors in December noticed the vandalism and told a gallery employee.

The painting with drawn-on eyes.

“[The guard's] motives are still unknown but the administration believes it was some kind of a lapse in sanity,” exhibition curator Anna Drozdov told the Guardian.

“The ink has slightly penetrated into the paint layer, since the titanium white used to paint the faces is not covered with author’s varnish, as is often the case in abstract painting of that time,” Ivan Petrov wrote in the Art Newspaper, which first reported the defacing.

“Fortunately, the vandal drew with a pen without strong pressure, and therefore the relief of the strokes as a whole was not disturbed. The left figure also had a small crumble of the paint layer up to the underlying layer on the face," he added. 

Since defacing the artwork, the guard has been fired and the artwork has been returned for restoration. The private security company that employed the guard is reportedly paying for the cleanup.

Local police have also opened an investigation for vandalism, which could slap a $534 (~P27,000) fine and a one-year labor sentence on the guard.

The painting's value wasn't listed but it's insured for $1 million (around P51 million), with restorations estimated at $3,342 (~P171,000).