‘I am a fool,’ Russian guard says
On his first day on the job, a Russian security guard at the Yeltsin Center in Ekaterinburg ended up with a criminal case against him after he vandalized a 20th-century painting by drawing eyes on figures left deliberately faceless by the artist, media reports said.
The painting dates back to the 1930s, and has three torsos and heads with hair but no facial features. The guard, who worked for a private company that is providing security at the gallery, drew eyes on two of them using a ballpoint pen.
The painting had been insured for 74.9 million rubles (roughly $1 million), reports said, adding that the criminal case opened against the accused guard carries a sentence of up to three months in prison.
The security guard identified by the local media as Aleksandr Vasiliev is now remorseful, The Art Newspaper has reported.
In an interview to Russian news site E1 on Feb. 11, Vasiliev, 63, said he was an injured veteran of the Afghan and Chechen wars. He said he thought the image was a “children’s’ drawing” and that teenagers visiting the gallery told him to improve upon it, The Art Newspaper reported.
“I’m a fool, what have I done!,” Vasiliev said.
He told E1 that he did not know he was doing anything wrong, though remembered how other museum visitors were walking by smiling.
When the police came to him several days later, Vasiliev said, he could not understand the charges against him. He told the police that he would “erase everything so it’s not visible.” The E1 article said the teens who he said goaded him on to deface the painting could not be seen in the security camera footage.
Vasiliev also said he would never have damaged the work had he known “the paintings were brought from Moscow and are so expensive.”