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News: Art
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Arkhip Kuindzhi's Ai-Petri. Crimea (1898-1908) was taken off the wall at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Photo Credit: The Art Newspaper/ © State Tretyakov Gallery.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

The thief who walked out of an exhibition with a painting is arrested

Witnesses thought he was gallery staff

The person who removed a painting from an art gallery and walked away amid stunned visitors has been arrested. The incident had taken place at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow on Sunday evening and the painting in question was the late 19th-early 20th century landscape with the title “Ai Petri. Crimea” by Arkhip Kuindzhi. The painting depicts a mountain peak in Crimea.

The painting has been given to the Gallery by the St Petersburg State Museum for a retrospective exhibition which has attracted large numbers of visitors so far. The exhibition is running at a building adjacent to the gallery’s main building

The 31-year-old man who took the painting entered the exhibition hall, walked straight up to the painting, took it off the wall and walked through the hall again before exiting the building. Although the hall was full of visitors at the time he either went unnoticed or was thought to have been a museum employee. The incident has been recorded on security camera footage.

The man was eventually arrested within 24 hours and the painting was found at a construction site near Moscow undamaged.

Budget cutbacks in 2015 have led to staff shortage regarding security purposes and extra staff from another agency had been assisting in the security department of museums and galleries. But the agency’s staff only covered the entrance of the Tretyakov’s Engineering Building.

The incident triggered the installation of extra safety measures by the gallery as well as the ordering of an investigation by the state across all federally-run museums regarding security and training of staff.

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