Russian who walked off with 19th century painting arrested

Carla Harmon
January 30, 2019

Brazen thieves have stolen a painting by a noted Russian landscape artist from Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery apparently in front of confused witnesses. "Crimea", was painted in 1908 by Kuindzhi, a Russian artist of Greek origin, and depicts a mountain in the Crimea peninsula.

Russian news agencies said the painting was stolen from the Tretyakov gallery, one of Russia's leading art galleries, which has been targeted by criminals several times in recent years.

Security footage released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs shows the suspect remove the painting from a gallery wall in the presence of a large number of people.

"He took it off the wall, walked behind a column and jumped out of the gallery with the painting without its frame", the gallery's director Zelfira Tregulova told a Moscow press conference. "Security measures at the Arkhip Kuindzhi exhibition and all sites of the Tretyakov Gallery have been strengthened".

Police apprehended the suspect in the Zarechye village in the Moscow Region.

The Kremlin on Monday said the gallery is "protected at a proper level" but added that "conclusions must be drawn". The theft came just months after a man damaged a 19th century painting at the museum, sparking fears that security at the facility should be improved.

A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin played down the incident, saying art thefts occur in other countries and noting the painting had been found quickly.

Police arrested a 37-year-old who used a metal pole to break the glass covering the picture, damaging the work in three places.

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