Snapshot from the exhibition hall surveillance video, Russian MIA

Gallery visitors damage priceless Dali and Goya artwork in Russia

You break it, you buy it. That’s probably the oldest joke in retail, if it’s a joke at all. The girls who damaged extremely valuable works of art in a gallery in Russia are likely worried about the price they’ll pay for work that wasn’t on sale in the first place and that may just happen to be irreplaceable.

Police received a written statement from the deputy director of the Main Avenue Cultural Center in Yekaterinburg, where the incident took place, asking that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The news was delivered by a Russian-speaking anchor dressed in state uniform in a video posted on Twitter on the official feed of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. It can’t get more serious than that.

In the video we can see someone in the front of the painting who jumps back as a large format frame that nearly misses them falls to the floor. Another person is standing in the corner in shock very close to the picture that fell over.

According to the Russian news agency, Tass, exhibitors say the picture, or more like a freestanding wall, that fell over had artworks by Salvador Dali and Francisco Goya mounted on it. 

“The damaged artworks are Goya’s etching from the Los Caprichos series, and Salvador Dali’s interpretation of it,” according to gallery representatives.

Tass also reported that the misadventure was caused by a group of girls who not only knocked over the pieces of art but caused damage to them from glass.

The culture centre employees say the damage was caused by “A group of girls – there were four of them” who “behaved inadequately. As a result, they damaged two works of art, which were on display in a tandem: pictures by Francisco Goya and Salvador Dali.”

“Goya’s work had its frame and glass broken,” employees of the culture centre said. In addition to the shattered frame and protective glass on Dali’s artwork, there was some “damage to the picture itself.”

People magazine online reported that the girls who damaged the artwork were in the act of taking a selfie. Although this is not out of the question as a possible cause of the incident, there was no mention of a selfie in the Tass news report. 

“Four women are dealing with the repercussions of a selfie gone wrong after they accidentally damaged two works by iconic artists,” the story reads.  

The gallery’s surveillance video posted on Twitter shows two people in the vicinity of a large block frame where the pictures were hung. One person appears to take a photo of the pictures on the wall while another person seems to walk into a space between the wall and the frame. The picture fell forward alerting others nearby who came to see what had happened. 

A local Yekaterinburg police spokesperson confirmed that “A probe is underway,” to further investigate the incident and to assess the damages.

Organizers say the exhibition continues as usual.

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