A security guard who delved into a million-dollar work of art explains why

Remember the ‘bored’ security guard who vandalized a £750,000 painting in Russia? Alexander Vasiliev drew a few eyes on the blank faces of figures in classic Anna Leporskaya painting during his first shift at the Yeltsin Center, located in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk Oblast region of central-western Russia, December 7, 2021.

During an exhibition entitled “The world as non-objectivity. The Birth of a New Art’ and, after the bosses noticed the painting had been defaced, he lost his job.

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The former military officer has now explained how the doodle came about. He admitted, “I’m a fool, for what I did. To be honest, I didn’t really like those pictures [at the exhibition]. They left a difficult impression. I tried to pass without looking [at them]. I watched how people reacted and then I saw 16 or 17 year olds standing there and discussing why there are no eyes, no mouths and no beauty.”

HHe told Yekaterinburg newspaper E1 that he was encouraged by schoolgirls visiting the exhibit. “There were girls in the group, and they asked me: ‘Draw on the eyes, you work here’.”

He had the impression that the work had been done by young people. He said he even asked those who encouraged him to draw on them if they were their paintings and they apparently said they were. He continued, “They gave me a pen. I drew the eyes. I thought it was just their kids’ drawings.”

“I saw people walking by smiling.”

After that, he wanted to go home soon after.

The painting
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In 1995, a senior lieutenant, he was one of only four out of 36 soldiers in his detachment to survive a fierce firefight.

His wife Yulia – a Covid nurse – said he was a ‘normal man’ but could be ‘naive like a child’. She blamed her war wounds for her action. The results of the doodling session resulted in the paint being “slightly penetrated” by the ink as the canvas was not coated with a protective varnish. The image was removed from display and returned to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow where refurbishment took place at a cost of approximately £2,500.

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