Carnegie Museum guard admits defacing painting.
Thursday, January 22, 2009.
By Jerome L. Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A former security guard at the Carnegie Museum of Art has pleaded guilty to slashing a $1.2 million painting with a key.
Timur Serebrykov, 28, of Greenfield, will be sentenced April 7 on one count of institutional vandalism.
On May 16 of last year, a surveillance camera at the museum caught Mr. Serebrykov in the act of defacing “Night Sky #2,” an oil on canvas painted by Vija Celmins, a Latvian artist whose work is well-known among art collectors. The painting was on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the 2008 Carnegie International.
James Sheets, Mr. Serebrykov’s attorney, said he would ask Allegheny County Judge John A. Zottola for a sentence of probation because his client has no prior criminal record, although he could also face jail time and hefty restitution payments. Mr. Serebrykov, who is engaged and now has an infant child, has been seeking mental health treatment since his arrest. He is free on bail.
“He fully acknowledges what he did and he accepts responsibility for it,” Mr. Sheets said.
Mr. Sheets said the Art Institute of Chicago repaired the painting at a cost of $5,000. But the museum estimates that the painting has lost about $240,000 in value because of the slashing and is seeking compensation. Mr. Sheets said he questions the museum’s figure and would fight for a much lower figure.
“It’s going to take him a lifetime to pay that back,” Mr. Sheets said.