Russian Museum Reconsiders Vodka After Man Puts Pole Through 19th-Century Painting

The gallery restaurant has been asked to cease alcohol sales.

By Ethan L. Johns
May 29, 2018

Image: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

In what was originally billed as a vodka-fueled rampage, a Russian man visiting Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery on Friday evaded security guards in the minutes before closing and used a metal stanchion pole to attack a controversial painting.

Igor Podporin, according to early reports, drank 100 milliliters of vodka in the gallery’s café, which led to him becoming “overwhelmed.” He proceeded to break the glass protecting the masterpiece painting and deal three blows to its canvas before security guards apprehended him.

Offering testimony in court on Monday, Podporin took back his original statement, denying that he had consumed vodka. He claimed that he doesn’t drink vodka at all, and had been pressured by the museum staff to blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.

Instead, he told the court that the painting distorts history, which enraged him.

“Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son” was created in 1855 by the Russian realist painter Ilya Repin, and depicts Ivan the Terrible, the first czar of Russia, cradling his son after accidentally killing him in a heated argument.

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This particular historical event has become a contentious topic in the contemporary Russian political climate, in which conservatives have revived enthusiasm for Ivan the Terrible—a figure whose popularity rose and fell with that of Josef Stalin.

Damaging or destroying objects of significant cultural heritage is a criminal offense in Russia. Podporin faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 3 million rubles (nearly $48,000).

While the painting has been removed for restoration and the museum staff is shaken up, the gallery restaurant is likely breathing a sigh of relief. Vodka proves its innocence. This time.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns