I like to think Vladimir and Nikolai are in heaven having a good long
laugh over the following BBC News story, dated Wednesday 2 October, 2002
Gogol's nose goes
A statue of a giant nose in St Petersburg,
inspired by Gogol's story of a man's pursuit of his escaped nose, has also
Police in Russia's second city are hunting the thieves responsible for the
removal of the 100kg marble piece.
It was erected eight years ago to honour Nikolai Gogol for his popular but
surreal 19th Century short story. In it a civil servant's nose detaches itself and he has to pursue
it all over the city as it conducts a bizarre walkabout.
"The nose seems to have gone for a walk," said its sculptor Vyacheslav Bukhayev.
"It could not have been stolen for its material. I really don't know who
could have taken it - maybe it was some art lover who prefers admiring works
of art in private."
St Petersburg police official Pavel Rayevsky indicated detectives believed
a collector was probably behind the theft.
Opportunists are unlikely to have been responsible as the piece weighs 100kg
and was positioned in a way that would have made it awkward to remove.
"It required a ladder, significant physical strength as well as a lot of
motivation," said Vladimir Timofeyev, director of the city's sculpture museum.
Mr Bukhayev said he was already considering whether and how to craft a replacement
for the stolen nose.
"Maybe it's for the best. In Gogol's story, the nose has a birthmark which
I omitted in my sculpture.
"In my second nose, I will be more faithful to the story and add the birthmark,"
Russia is a hotspot for organised art theft, with St Petersburg a particular
focus for gangs.