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Painting stolen in Tretyakov Gallery heist ‘not damaged’, source says

The painting was stolen from Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery on Sunday evening

MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. The "Ai Petri. Crimea" painting by renowned Russian landscape painter Arkhip Kuindzhi, has not been damaged after being uncovered outside Moscow following a brazen, board-daylight heist from the State Tretyakov Gallery, a source in the law enforcement agencies told TASS on Monday.

The source said that after scanning it briefly, “its condition is normal," noting that the painting would serve as evidence in a criminal case.

The artwork was stolen from Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery on Sunday evening in front of everyone. The masterpiece had been brought from St. Petersburg’s Russian Museum to be displayed at the exhibition of Kuindzhi’s works.

Russia’s Interior Ministry jointly with the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Monday detained the suspected thief in the Zarechye village in the Moscow Region. The 31-year-old man told police that he had hidden the painting on the grounds of a construction site in the Odintsovsky Region. Following up on the information from the suspect, police later found the painting there.

The suspect has a criminal record. Back in December 2018, he was taken into custody on drug possession charges. He was later released on his own recognizance under a pledge not to leave the country. Police are not ruling out that he could have accomplices. That being said, a criminal investigation is underway.

Earlier, a source in the law enforcement agencies said the painting had been stolen on someone’s orders. The Interior Ministry said according to preliminary data that the crime was "committed for financial gain."