Art theft at Russian resort town

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Paintings by Isaac Levitan worth an estimate $2.1m taken from house museum in Plyos

Isaac Levitan and his dog Vesta out hunting in Plyos. Photo: State Literature Museum, Moscow

Five paintings by the 19th century Russian artist Isaac Levitan were stolen in the early hours of 5 August from a museum in the house where he once lived in Plyos, a bucolic Volga River village that inspired many of his works.

The website of the government of the Ivanovo region reported on Tuesday that the paintings, including works called Roses and Quiet Stream are worth an estimated 77m rubles ($2.1m). According to Russian media reports, at least two thieves painted over the security cameras and escaped on motorcycles.

Plyos, which fell into disrepair in the post-Soviet era, has been transformed over the past decade into a resort and country home retreat for wealthy Russians and government officials. Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is a frequent visitor.

Nature scenes by Levitan are popular with wealthy Russian collectors, and his paintings strike a chord as well with regular Russians, who stood in line for hours in the cold to view a Levitan retrospective at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 2011.

Levitan’s The Illumination of the Kremlin sold at Christie’s in 2007 for £1.6m ($3.3m). Another painting, Autumn, went for £215,850 ($360,470) at MacDougall’s Russian Art and Icons Sales in London in June 2014.


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