Bolshoi in Russia: Is this the world’s ugliest statue or what?

Greetings from Moscow! Bolshoi in Russia is my variation on Big in Japan. (Bolshoi means “Big” in Russian. Get it?) Stay tuned for my live dispatches from Russia this week.

Moscow is an incredibly vibrant city. New buildings are popping up everywhere (and one can only hope they will soon cover a lot of the other buildings I’ve seen). Russian architecture is a mixed bag. There are some real gems, but a lot of it is just supposed to illustrate the greatness of Russia, and is simply horrific. (As most pieces illustrating the greatness of any nation typically are.)

Take this statue, for example. I honestly could not believe my eyes the first time I saw it. Smack in the middle of the river Moscow in downtown Moscow, there is Peter the Great, dressed in a Roman toga, clutching a golden scroll, while standing in a comparatively kid-sized boat, setting direction away from Moscow. Zurab Konstantines dze Tsereteli, a controversial Russian-Georgian artist completed it in 1986.

The worst part of it is, you can’t get away from it. It’s 94,5 meters (300 feet), twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. It’s the sixth tallest statue in the world. It’s pitch black and so monstrously outsized, it looks surreal.

From a lot of angles it even dwarfs the church behind it, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which is the tallest Eastern Orthodox church in the world. It has got an interesting history, too. First built in 1883, it was demolished in 1931, by order of Stalin‘s minister Kaganovich. Nikita Khrushchev later was transformed the site into a huge public swimming pool, the largest the world had ever seen. Only in 1994 did they start rebuilding the church. Although it looks old, it was completed in 2000 and, interestingly enough, it was built by the same architect who built the Peter the Great statue. I am telling you, you can’t get away from this guy in Moscow.

Which brings me to my question: What is the ugliest statue you have ever seen?

From Russia, with love.

YOU Can be Indiana Jones!

Have some extra time and a wad of cash to spend? Become a treasure hunter. There’s a fun article in WSJ’s Weekend Journal about “Seven Missing Wonders of the World,” plus a treasure map to get you started.

  • The Holy Grail: Apparently, this wasn’t mentioned anywhere until around 1190 in a poem about something (undescribed) seen by the knight Perceval. But, obviously undergoing a recent surge of interest, and you’ve probably already started your search. Quite possibly being hidden along with the Holy Hand Grenade.
  • Genghis Khan’s Tomb: Maury Kravitz, retired trader and attorney, has spent over $3m and 15 yrs searching Mongolia for the resting place of this conqueror. Don’t let him beat you to it. Follow him around, and interview locals to see where he’s dug already and don’t dig there.
  • Amelia Earhart’s Plane: She was lost July 2, 1937, heading from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island. Some think she assumed the identity of NJ banker and pilot Irene Bolam, but I think traipsing around the South Pacific looking is a little sexier.
  • Nefertiti’s Tomb: Seeing as how Egyptian royalty were usually hidden when buried (because of the nasty habits of grave-robbers), she could be anywhere from the Valley of Kings, to somewhere in New Jersey.
  • The Shipwreck The San Jose: This Spanish galleon was sunk by the English in 1708, taking gold and silver, estimated to be worth between $150m and $10B, to the bottom of the ocean off Columbia. A 20-yr legal battle with the government of Columbia ended this year, promising the finder would split the loot with the government.
  • Peter the Great’s The Amber Room: This masterpiece of Baroque art was actually a room given by the king of Prussia to Peter the Great in 1716. It disappeared some time after the Nazi armies carted it off. I’m guessing it is with the Arc of the Covenant.
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s Mural The Battle of Anghiari: Thought to be his greatest work of art, this mural decorated a hall in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, was copied by other artists, was lost, and now some think it was covered by another mural by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century. If you can’t find it, at least have a replica of the mural tattooed on your back.

In case you don’t have the time or cash to do any of this yourself, you can at least buy shares of the most prominent treasure hunter company, Odyssey Marine. Boo-ya!

I see another Hollywood blockbuster or bestseller in the making…