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Security guard doodles eyes onto $1 million painting on his first day

The A.V. Club 2/11/2022 Andrew Paul
Artist’s artist approximation. © Photo: Tolga Akman / AFP (Getty Images), Graphic: Andrew Paul Artist’s artist approximation.

When you boil it all down, there’s really only one job duty for an art museum security guard: secure said museum’s art. And yet...

Continuing the long, time-dishonored tradition of “improving” historic works of artistry, a “bored” security guard at Russia’s Yeltsin Center managed to deface a $1 million painting during his first (and only) shift. According to The Daily Mail and elsewhere, the man apparently scribbled beady lil’ eyes onto two of the three titular, faceless individuals in Anna Leporskaya’s “Three Figures,” dated between 1932 and 1934.

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Visitors to the museum first noticed the damage back in December, but it seems the culprit has only recently been identified. While preservationists anticipate that the work can be restored with minimal-to-no damage (all for the low, low price of $3,500), the former security has since been charged with vandalism, which entails a $536 fine and, because this is Russia after all, a “one-year correctional labor sentence.”

According to our crass, plebeian research, Anna Leporskaya (1900-1982) was a Russian avant-garde painter and former student of the renowned Kazimir Malevich. She is considered a master of “artistic porcelain,” and although we know next-to-nothing about the subject, we can assume it generally didn’t involve sketching itty-bitty eyes with a ballpoint pen.

Still, there’s something oddly adorable about the tiny additions to Leporskaya’s “Three Figures.” If one didn’t know any better (and we don’t), one might assume that the eyes were actually original to the painting... not that we’d ever endorse such reckless and rude behavior. After all, there are so many other historic works of “art” out there that are much more deserving of defacement and ruination...

Not that we’re endorsing that, either. But that’s merely from a legal standpoint.

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