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Carnegie Museum guard "snapped" before vandalizing painting

Carnegie Museum guard "snapped" before vandalizing painting

A former Carnegie Museum of Art guard charged with vandalizing a $1.2 million painting simply "snapped" due to life's normal pressures, including impending fatherhood, his defense attorney said.
Meanwhile, officials with The Art Institute of Chicago are trying to determine if the painting, which had been on loan to the Pittsburgh museum, can be restored.
Timur Serebrykov, 27, is an immigrant from Azerbaijan and his fiancee is due to give birth soon, attorney James Sheets said. Concerns about his life and future caused Serebrykov to use a key to slash the painting "Night Sky 2" by Latvian artist Vija Celmins on May 16.
"He's under a lot of pressure and he just snapped and did something dumb," Sheets said.
Pittsburgh police arrested Serebrykov on a charge of institutional vandalism on May 20 after museum officials examined a surveillance tape that captured the act. Serebrykov apologized and confessed, telling police he simply didn't like the painting.
He is free pending trial and remains under the care of a psychiatrist, Sheets said.
"He probably should have been under some kind of mental health care before," Sheets said. He called Serebrykov "a hard-working immigrant who is trying to make a new life for himself, his fiancee, his unborn child and the rest of his family."
Serebrykov is in the country legally as either a refugee or on political asylum, Sheets said. The attorney has contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in hopes the arrest won't affect Serebrykov's immigrant status. Government officials have not commented on Serebrykov's status.
The attorney also squelched questions about whether Serebrykov was making a political statement.
"There is no political element to this," Sheets said. "He's from a country that used to be part of the Soviet bloc and (the artist) is from Latvia."
"A lot of Eastern European countries have conflicts with one another, but that is not the case here," he said. "He doesn't know the artist or her work, and it was not directed at her personally. He feels terrible about this."
Police documents said the painting was part of the Carnegie's collection, but officials with the Pittsburgh museum have since confirmed it was on loan from the Chicago museum.
"We just got the painting back and it's under examination," said Erin Hogan, director of public affairs for the Chicago museum. "We're going to see what we can do."


Updated : 2021-02-26 09:58 GMT+08:00