Hermitage Leonardo bust taken hostage in restorer's cash dispute

The kidnapped statue has now been returned to the museum


A sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci from a façade of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was in effect “kidnapped” in a row over money, The Art Newspaper can reveal. Earlier this year, the museum sent the statue from an inner courtyard which is not accessible to the public to a private company for restoration. “That company in turn outsourced to another company, and in the end they had a disagreement with regard to finances,” the Hermitage press office confirmed.

Police said that the director of Vern, the restoration company which did the actual work, has been arrested and charged with larceny because he refused to return the statue. Neither police nor the museum would provide any more details. The statue, which is believed to be worth 12m roubles (about $500,000), is now back at the Hermitage, although it is not on display.

Meanwhile, almost two years after the theft of 221 works of art from the Hermitage came to light during a check through museum catalogues, the police investigation has run into a dead end with no new developments, the Hermitage said.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Leonardo bust taken hostage in cash dispute'