AP - CARNEGIE MUSEUM GUARD VANDALIZES LOANED VIJA CELMINS PAINTING
AP â CARNEGIE MUSEUM GUARD VANDALIZES LOANED VIJA CELMINS PAINTING
AVV 6-9 #741934
PITTSBURGH (AP) â A former Carnegie Museum of Art guard charged with vandalizing a $1.2 million painting simply âsnappedââ due to lifeâs 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 âNight Sky #2ââ by Latvian artist Vija Celmins on May 16.
âHeâs under a lot of pressure and he just snapped and did something dumb,ââ 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 did not like the painting.
He is free pending trial and remains under the care of a psychiatrist, Sheets said.
âHe probably should have been under some kind of mental health care before,ââ Sheets said. He called Serebrykov âa hardworking immigrant who is trying to make a new life for himself, his fiancee, his unborn child and the rest of his family.ââ
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 wonât affect Serebrykovâs immigrant status. Government officials have not commented on Serebrykovâs status.
The attorney also squelched questions about whether Serebrykov was making a political statement.
âThere is no political element to this,ââ Sheets said. âHeâs from a country that used to be part of the Soviet bloc and [the artist] is from Latvia.ââ
âA lot of Eastern European countries have conflicts with one another, but that is not the case here,ââ he said. âHe doesnât know the artist or her work, and it was not directed at her personally. He feels terrible about this.ââ
Police documents said the painting was part of the Carnegieâs collection, but officials with the Pittsburgh museum have since confirmed it was on loan from the Chicago museum.
âWe just got the painting back and itâs under examination,ââ said Erin Hogan, director of public affairs for the Chicago museum. âWeâre going to see what we can do.ââ