Festive splendor for modern thieves
The detectives, who had recently arrested a crowned thief Shakro Molodoy (Zakhar Kalashov), were surprised to see the full splendor of the criminal’s headquarters. Earlier, in March, their colleagues were equally amazed at all the luxury found during the search in the palace of the former Sakhalin Governor Aleksandr Khoroshavin. Lenta.ru investigates why the kingpins and corrupt officials are attracted to this Bohemian style.
Blanket worth a whole apartment
The arrest of Zakhar Kalashov, the successor of the notorious Ded (Grandpa) Hasan as the leader of the Russian mafia, became the most notable event in the recent criminal news. The searches conducted in Shakro’s country house shortly after his detention showed the true scale of his illegal activities. Hidden behind a fence, Kalashov’s luxury mansion in the Moscow Region was filled with antiques and expensive furniture. Security officials found a pool and a gym in Shakro’s house, which were decorated with gold, a gorgeous white piano, and a huge wine cellar with a large variety of elite alcohol. Only two Makarov pistols and a grenade looked out of place there.
A few months before Zakhar Kalashov’s detention, in March 2016, law enforcers arrested (and later removed from office) on charges of bribery Sakhalin Governor Andrey Khoroshavin. During searches in the offices, his Moscow apartment and in suburban residences, the investigators and the Federal Security Service (FSB) officers found about one billion rubles in various currencies. After this, other valuables of the corrupt official seem trivial, although they include a pen with the map of Russia, inlaid with diamonds, sapphires and rubies (36 million rubles), a blanket with a pillow from a rare species of chinchillas (47-70 thousand dollars), and a variety of luxury watches. Sakhalin residents, who are used to buying bread that costs 50 rubles and a kilo of bananas for 190 rubles, were simply shocked by such discoveries.
It would seem that Zakhar Kalashov and Alexander Khoroshavin have little in common, but the decor of their houses is quite similar. Both the kingpin and now former official have lust for pompous Rococo and Empire styles. Criminals and those who were associated with them sought to acquire signature items like cell phones, gold chains and crimson jackets even back in the 90s. Has anything changed? What accessories and interior items attract the mafia of the XXI century?
Watches for cool guys
Chasovschik.ru Director General, an expert in the field of luxury watches Dmitry Krylov asserts that nowadays the Swiss accessories hold the second place in the list of items every respectable mobster tries to obtain. The first place, as always, is for expensive cars.
"Low-pitched criminals are wearing the watches that they can steal. As for the high-fliers, these people are rarely interested in brands - they simply want something gold, bright, and eye-catching. The brand of this thing is not so important for them. In addition, representatives of the criminal underworld have strong stereotypes about the expensive Swiss watches - for example, they are firmly convinced that such accessories are unbreakable and cannot be scratched. If the watches stopped or received a scratch, then they are fake, which means there is a reason for conflict with the store," said Krylov.
However, according to the expert, sometimes customers come for a specific model of watches. This means that they have seen it on the arm of some "cool guy" of respectable sort, and they need the exact same thing. The shallowness of their mind makes no room for other options.
"Of course, there are customers who know their luxury watches better than the traders themselves. They are high-class criminals, mainly specializing in financial crimes. They often travel to the Cote d'Azur and to Miami, they are aware of the latest trends. In 50-60 percent of cases, such people buy Rolex (which is now the global trend), about 10 percent of them - Patek Philippe, almost always the same model - Nautilus. Another 10 percent prefer Audemars Piguet, again mostly the same model - Royal Oak. The remaining 20-30 percent love exotic, such as Breguet, Richard Mille and Ulysse Nardin," Krylov explained.
Automobiles are taking the firm first place among the mandatory attributes of the modern gangsters. Most often it is Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen — it is believed that when a person arrives in this car, he immediately sends the sign of his criminal status. The luxury cars that follow are Bentley and Ferrari. According to Dmitry Krylov, old school criminals avoided buying expensive cars, so as not to attract attention. Bandits of the new century are not afraid of this kind of publicity.
"By the way, luxury Vertu cell phones have long ceased to be fashionable among criminals. Firstly, they are easy to trace. Secondly, due to the specifics of these people’s activities, they sometimes have to get rid of the devices, and if it costs hundreds of thousands of rubles, it is not very practical. Finally, these premium phones are absolutely not functional, so modern criminals use either iPhones, or any devices based on Android. Crimson jackets are also gone. Now the criminals wear jeans from Dolce&Gabbana, a good belt, and sometimes an expensive purse. Modern bandits choose the expensive casual style," Krylov noted.
Festive is everything
Zakhar Kalashov’s house
Expensive accessories and automobiles are an essential element of the image of a typical criminal. Mobsters also pay as much attention to the interior of their houses. According to the Candidate of Legal Sciences, a lawyer Valery Karyshev, criminals describe the rich decor of their houses with one word — naryadno (festive). Alexey Kistochkin, former head of the antique department of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department (MUR) knows what that means better than anyone.
"In the 90s, the majority of the population was interested in jeans, bubble gum, and other products of Western countries, while works of art were not considered particularly relevant at the time. This was true both for ordinary people and criminals. Nowadays everything has changed. The level of education among criminals has increased significantly, and with it came understanding that works of art are beautiful and valuable. Today, they are in demand for criminals either as interior decoration items, or as a way of investing money," said Kistochkin.
According to the expert, none of the modern bandits buy art themselves, they resort to services of specialists in art. At the same time, the criminals avoid getting involved in stories with stolen valuables, because it is fraught with additional legal problems. For interior decoration kingpins acquire paintings, porcelain, bronze sculptures, and silverware.
"In recent years, the demand for Soviet art – for works of social realism - has increased. Bronze sculptures by Evgeny Vuchetich are in high demand. Choosing another work of art for their collection, criminals are guided by the opinions of experts, and tend to buy what is at the highest esteem at the moment. For example, the artist Vladimir Nemuhin died on April 18 this year, and the demand for his works has grown immediately. On August 9, Ernst Neizvestny died in the US, and soon his already popular works will be in outright feverish demand. Criminal elements certainly monitor such trends. But they purchased expensive paintings of Nemuhin or sculptures of Neizvestny not for house decoration, but to invest the money and eventually earn decent profit. A distinguishing feature of our times is that the bandits learned how to invest," explained Kistochkin.
However, there is a downside to such investments, he added. True experts treat the works of art with respect and care a lot about them, providing ideal storing conditions for paintings, sculptures, and books. If a kingpin buys them, using as a means to gain money, then he will care about the acquired masterpiece according to his own knowledge, which is often not so deep. As a result, the pictures are hanging in the sun and fade with time, the coins are stored in a pile, getting scratches and tarnishing, and the books are affected by moisture and gradually decay.
Echoes of poor childhood
"Figuratively speaking, the criminals’ lust for luxury and expensive accessories is an attempt to compensate for the burdens of a poor childhood and deprived adolescence. In their younger years, these people have developed some stereotypes about rich life, and, having acquired some fortune, they are trying to meet them. But they have little knowledge, neither a sense of proportion, nor style. In the end, it turns into the kind of absurdity, which, for example, we have seen in the house of Zakhar Kalashov: a lot of gold, the excess of antiques, and complete lack of taste in general," says Sergey Yenikolopov, a criminologist and Head of medical psychology department at Russian Academy of Medical Sciences center of psychological health.
According to the Candidate of Legal Sciences, a lawyer Valery Karyshev, the lust of criminals for luxury is not just an attempt to make their dreams of dolce vita come true, but also an attempt to look like businessmen. Criminals are actively communicating with entrepreneurs, so they try to imitate their attributes by purchasing decent cars, expensive suits, and "festive" house decor.
"Excessive fancifulness and accentuated wealth of house decors of the criminal leaders and major bribe-takers is explained by the fact that they try to invest in antiques, in luxury items. This design and style pale into insignificance, and as a result we see lush, but absolutely tasteless interiors. Some of them may have fetishes like gilded weapons or expensive suits, but these are special cases," says professor of the department of criminology at the Kutafin University (Moscow State Law Academy) Nikolay Egorov.
However, the director of Reestr Kulturnikh Tsennostey (Register of Cultural Property) Vladimir Roschin argues that not all criminals are devoid of artistic taste. Among them there are those, who have stunning knowledge of works of the leading masters of painting, sculpture, graphics, and architecture. Of course, there are few of them, most bandits and bribe-takers have their sense of beauty stuck at the level of Zakhar Kalshov’s festive decor.