Security guard, his first day on the job, draws eyes on $1.3 million painting with ballpoint pen

A security guard at a Russian art gallery has found his employment cut short after the way he chose to relieve his boredom on his very first day on the job.

An abstract art exhibition at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center in Ekaterinburg featured Anna Leporskaya’s “Three Figures” which is valued at about $1.3 million. But back in December, the painting was removed after visitors reported what appeared to be a case of vandalism.

It turns out, someone had drawn eyes on the faceless figures in Leporskaya’s work. That person was a “bored” security guard and the defacement was reportedly accomplished on his first day at work, The Guardian reported.

The now-fired security guard was not named but apparently worked for a private company hired by the gallery, according to Alexander Drozdov, the executive director of the Yeltsin Center.

The work of art, which was painted between 1932 and 1934 and was on loan from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, was vandalized “with a Yeltsin Center-branded pen,” curator Anna Reshetkina told The Guardian.

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

Writing in the Art Newspaper, Ivan Petrov noted that 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.”

“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.

According to The Guardian:

The Yeltsin Center reported the damage to police on 20 December, but Ekaterinburg’s ministry of internal affairs initially declined to press charges as the damage was deemed “insignificant”. Russian media reported that the ministry of culture later complained to the prosecutor general’s office about the lack of action, and last week police announced that they had opened an investigation. The suspect faces a fine and up to three months in prison.


Protective screens have reportedly been installed now to safeguard the rest of the collection. Restoration work on the vandalized work is estimated to cost about $4,600 according to The Guardian.


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