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27 Nov, 2013 13:04

Case closed: Giant trunk ousted from Red Square following public outrage

Case closed: Giant trunk ousted from Red Square following public outrage

A controversial temporary exhibition hall decorated as a luxury Louis Vuitton trunk is being removed from Moscow’s Red Square. It follows a string of angry comments that filled Russian media after the installation was revealed to the public.

The trunk, which was supposed to host a six-week exhibition, drew criticism, because people saw it as grossly inappropriate in a place considered sacred by many Russians. Following the publicity backlash, the Moscow Mayor’s office said Wednesday it ordered the installation removal, which commenced shortly afterwards.

Earlier an anonymous source in the Kremlin told Interfax that the presidential administration was displeased with the situation and demanded that the construction be demolished.

However, presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has denied that there was any order from the Kremlin to dismantle it.

“There can’t be any written order,” Peskov said, adding that the major problem is with “the sense of proportion”.

A similar request was voiced by GUM, the luxury shopping mall located just next to the Red Square, the 120th anniversary of which the Louis Vuitton exhibition was meant to mark.

The exhibition found support from fashion model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova. Her Naked Heart foundation, which helps disadvantaged children in Russia, was the designated recipient of the entire revenue received from selling expo tickets.

Failure to open the exhibition would hurt both those who would be denied a chance “for an inspiring journey into history and beauty,” and the foundation, which would not receive the charity money, Vodianova wrote on her Facebook page.

“I hope that the exhibition will not be canceled, but simply moved to another location,” she said.

To support the foundation, GUM has said it will donate money from its skating rink ticket sales. The rink is also located on Red Square.

"GUM has decided to donate money from ticket sales on the GUM Skating Rink during December 2013 to the Naked Heart Foundation charity,” a GUM spokesperson told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

A spoof online auction offers the LV trunk for almost 10 million rubles. "URGENT. No wear. Good state. Suitable as a coffee table, garage or hangar for a Tu-154 aircraft. Selling because it didn't suit the decor. Pick up in central Moscow. Price negotiable."

So far several locations, including such prominent sites as the Gorky Park and the All-Russia Exhibition Centre (VDNKh), were named as possible substitution for the Red Square.

As passions over the giant trunk seem to be calming down, many ask how the situation may have arisen in the first place. It’s not clear who gave the permission to construct the showy installation on Red Square.

Both the presidential administration and the mayor’s office deny any prior knowledge of the installation and issuing a permit for it.

A popular internet rumor put the blame on the Federal Protective Service, Russia’s counterpart for the Secret Service in the US, which provides personal security for top officials and guards sensitive locations. The service’s tight control over Red Square received much public attention several years ago when it issued a ban on taking photographs there. It took the intervention of then-President Dmitry Medvedev to overrule it.

The latest jurisdictional confusion did not go unnoticed.

“It certainly looks strange, to say the least. It’s unfeasible that something unsanctioned was happening for the last week. The construction was being done on a large scale, and it’s clear that [Louis Vuitton] would not do it just like that. Where was everybody then?” wondered Anastasia Zalogina, president of the Naked Heart foundation.