$182,000 Russian artwork stolen in brazen heist from Tretyakov Gallery found, suspect detained

A painting by renowned Russian landscape artist Arkhip Kuindzhi vanished from the Tretyakov Gallery in an incredibly brazen museum heist, but was found a day later at a remote construction site outside Moscow.

Russian police and the FSB security service initiated a search for the ‘Ai-Petri. Crimea’ – a famous painting by Kuindzhi which was stolen in broad daylight from Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery. The artwork, valued at 12 million rubles (around US$182,000), was found at a construction site near Moscow, police revealed on Monday. 

Investigators identified a suspect in the heist – a 31-year-old man with a criminal record. The perpetrator has already been detained.

Kuindzhi’s famous painting of Crimean mountain ridges was reported missing from the Tretyakov Gallery, one of the premier museums of Russian art in Moscow, earlier on Sunday. Incredibly, it was not stolen in the dead of night – instead, it disappeared right in front of visitors enjoying the exhibits.

Witnesses said that a tall, blond male in his late 20s approached the painting, took it from the wall, and made his escape before the alarm sounded. The heist looked so casual that people thought he was one of the museum workers. After a few moments, however, they realized that the painting had been stolen.

Adding insult to injury, the masterpice was stolen right on the birthday of its creator (Kuindzhi was born on January 27, 1842).

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The Russian artist of Greek origin is known for his landscapes, most of which are kept at the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The ‘Ai-Petri’ is one of his most valued works.

Last May, one of Russia’s best-known 19th century paintings – also on display at the Tretyakov Gallery – which depicts Tsar Ivan the Terrible cradling his dying son, was damaged by a vandal with a metal rod.

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