An art thief stole a painting in a bold heist at a top Moscow gallery on Sunday, lifting the work off the wall and walking away with it through crowds of onlookers.
CCTV footage captured the moment when a man took the painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi off the wall at the Tretyakov Gallery and walked away casually, unchallenged by visitors.
The £760,000 painting, Ai Petri.Crimea, which has since been re-obtained by the police, depicts a mountain in the Crimean Peninsula.
“Thank God, thanks to the energetic efforts of our law enforcement officers, the painting was found quickly and efficiently," said Dmitry Peskov, president Vladimir Putin’s press-secretary.
On Monday, the Russian authorities said the 31-year-old thief had been arrested.
According to Russian newspaper, Kommersant, Mr Denis Chuprikov was found in a small village in the wider Moscow region where the painting had been hidden in a house, which is still under construction.
When questioned about his whereabouts earlier in the afternoon, Mr Chuprikov briefly remained silent before answering that he “doesn’t remember very clearly,” adding that he would “need to refresh his memory.”
Mr Chuprikov had also previously stated that he categorically “doesn’t break the laws of the Russian Federation.”
Born in 1842 in Mariupol, modern-day Ukraine, Arkhip Kuindzhi was a Russian artist of Greek origin who painted the piece in question while living in Saint Petersburg between 1898 and 1908.
Since the whole ordeal, the Tretyakov Gallery is looking to improve its security measures.
"We have strengthened all the paintings so that it's not possible to remove them. We have started to install individual alarm sensors to our paintings. We will install them on all of our expositions," Zelfira Tregulova, the director of Tretyakov Gallery.
The director also confirmed that the Kuindzhi exhibition will still remain open as per usual.
It is not the first time an art thief has made a daring attempt to pluck a painting from a gallery in plain sight.
A man and woman made off with a painting worth £9,000 from New York's Team Gallery in January 2019.
After a 30 minute chase, those pursuing the couple gave up. This incident became the second time in the gallery's 23-year history in which a piece has been stolen.