Moscow Museums Can Sleep Easily Now

The Moscow government is planning to build the largest museum depository in the city. The depository will be erected on the territory of the former glass factory near Tsaritsino. The gross area of the building will be over 100,000 square meters.

The mayor of the Russian capitol Yuri Luzhkov told reporters that the depository was meant for show pieces from various Moscow-based museums, galleries and private collections. According to Luzhkov, that important project would exclude the possibility of theft or loss of any of the stored items.

The massive theft of 221 artifacts, including jewelry, enamels, and other artifacts worth an estimated $5 million was reported last summer during an inventory in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg that had begun in October 2005. Nikolai Zavadsky, 55-year-old local part-time history teacher was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in thefts at the State Hermitage Museum. The stolen items included a selection of medieval and 19th-century Russian jewelry, silverware and enameled objects. During the trial, Zavadsky confessed to having taken the 77 artworks to antique shops to sell while being aware that they came from the Hermitage. He also blamed his late wife, stating that she was the mastermind behind the thefts.

Larisa Zavadskaya died of a heart attack at her desk in October just as an inspection of her department got underway that eventually exposed the absence of the works.

Thirty-one items recovered by the police have been returned to the museum. The most valuable of the stolen artworks, a 19th-century icon named «The Assembly of All Saints», worth about $200,000, was recovered on Aug. 3, in a garbage can outside 21 Ulitsa Ryleyeva following an anonymous call to police.

Most of the stolen items that were recovered all surfaced in a similar manner, mainly in August and September, 2006. The Hermitage’s management have repeatedly appealed to collectors and antique shop owners, but the recovery process has since stalled. The fate of the other stolen artifacts remains unknown.

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Published in: on September 24, 2007 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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