This Russian robber isn’t going to win any prizes for creativity.
Ocean’s Eleven made us think robberies required intricate planning and precise timing, but a Russian crook recently took a simpler route.
And I mean simple. The man walked into the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow on Sunday, took a painting off the wall and strolled out with it tucked under his arm.
Visitors to the gallery didn’t even give the man a second look, assuming that he must have been an employee taking the piece for cleaning.
The stolen piece, Ai Petri, Crimea, a mountain landscape painted by Russian artist Akrhip Kuindzhi in 1908, is worth around A$1.4 million.
Luckily, through the wonders of CCTV cameras filming in broad daylight, the man was quickly caught.
The million-dollar piece was recovered at a nearby building site the next day after the 31-year-old perpetrator told authorities where he hid it.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the thief isn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, something that culture ministry official Vladislaw Kononov agrees with.
“In a rating of the most stupid crimes of the 21st century, he has grounds to deserve an honourable mention,” Kononov told Reuters.
Moscow police are now looking for potential accomplices in what they are terming a “pre-planned heist of an object of special cultural value”, a crime that comes with a maximum jail term of 15 years.
In response to public outrage and embarrassment over just how easy it was for the man to steal the painting, the gallery’s director has said all temporary exhibits will now be fitted with electronic alarms.
“For us Muscovites this is shameful,” Ludmila Gavrina, a visitor to the gallery, said. “Something needs to change.”
A spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin responded to the incident by playing it down, saying that art thefts occur in plenty of other countries and commending the quick action of the Moscow police.