Museum security guard doodles eyes on pricey Russian painting

Two of the usually faceless figures in the Anna Leporskaya painting had eyes drawn on with a ballpoint pen. Courtesy / The Art Newspaper Russia

A security guard who doodled on an expensive Russian painting while on shift is facing charges for his lapse in judgment.

The security guard, who was working his first day on the job at a Russian museum, drew two small eyes on the abstract faces of two people that appear in Anna Leporskaya’s Soviet-era painting “Three Figures.”

Anna Reshetkina, the curator of the exhibition at the Yelstin Center in Yekaterinburg, said administrators were baffled by the security guard’s decision to add eyes “with a Yeltsin Center-branded pen.”

“His motives are still unknown but the administration believes it was some kind of a lapse in sanity,” Reshetkina said in a statement.

There is no official value associated with the piece, but it has been insured for $1 million.

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Yeltsin Center’s executive director Alexander Drozdov said the security guard was employed by a private security organization.

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Thankfully, the vandal didn’t use too much pressure on the canvas and the damage doesn’t go too deep, reported The Art Newspaper Russia, which first broke the story.

Anna Leporskaya’s painting “Three Figures” at the Yeltsin Center before it was damaged. Courtesy / The Yeltsin Center

However, the paint layer on the left-hand face in the painting had crumbled slightly.

Museum officials estimate it will cost more than $3,000 to restore the painting, which was on loan from Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery.

According to The Guardian, the vandalism was first noticed in December, but government officials deemed the damage “insignificant.” A criminal investigation was opened last week after the ministry of culture complained to the prosecutor general’s office.

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According to Russian news site MKRU, the museum has fired their head of security and is looking at how they can better protect their works of art.

If found guilty, the guard could face a fine of more than $500 and three months in prison, the BBC reports.

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