25 Sep 2019 20:35

Man who stole Kuindzhi painting from Tretyakov Gallery gets 3 years in penal colony

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) - The Moscow Zamoskvoretsky District Court has sentenced Denis Chuprikov, a native of Crimea, to three years in prison for stealing the 1908 Ai Petri. Crimea painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi from the Tretyakov Gallery, an Interfax correspondent has reported.

"The court has ruled to find Chuprikov guilty of a crime under Item C of Part 2 of Article 164 of the Russian Criminal Code (stealing an especially valuable object leading to its damage, elimination, or destruction) and to sentence him to three years in a high-security penal colony," Judge Yelena Averchenko said in the sentence.

According to earlier reports, the state prosecutor had sought four years in a high-security colony.

Lawyer Svetlana Gorbunova, for her part, had sought a suspended sentence for Chuprikov, saying the degree of danger posed to the public by the crime committed by her client was "overstated."

Representatives of the Tretyakov Gallery agreed with the state prosecutors and supported the prosecutor's offer of punishment for Chuprikov.

Like his lawyer, the defendant had asked for a suspended sentence in his final statement.

On January 27, Kuindzhi's Ai Petri. Crimea painting was stolen from an exhibition hall at the Engineering Building of the Tretyakov Gallery, where the painter's exhibit Magic of Color was held. The thief took the painting off the wall and left in front of many of the exhibits' visitors.

On January 28, Chuprikov, 32, who was born in Crimea, was detained in the village of Zarechye outside Moscow. He said that he had hid the painting at a construction site in the Moscow region's Odintsovo district, where police recovered it later.

At the end of the investigation, the investigators said Chuprikov acted as a member of a group of persons by prior conspiracy, or an organized group. That indictment was later removed from the charge. According to the factual allegations, Chuprikov acted "realizing a sudden lucrative criminal intent."

The Culture Ministry has been recognized as an aggrieved part in the case as regards the infliction of physical damage, and the Tretyakov Gallery was recognized to have suffered business reputation damage.

Chuprikov initially recognized his guilt partially, denying the damage done to the stolen painting. His lawyer said he had voluntarily compensated for the cost of the needed restoration work on the painting in an amount of 13,000 rubles.

At the end of the judicial investigation, Chuprikov said in court he had decided to fully admit his guilt. He said he had stolen the painting because he wanted "hype." He said he had planned the crime "spontaneously" and wanted to return the painting to its place the following morning.