This monument to Mikhail Samuelevych Panikovski, a scammer and an impostor, “the third son of Lieutenant Schmidt”, is one of my favourite in Kyiv.
Panikovski was a literature hero of “The Little Golden Calf”, satiric novel by famous Soviet writers Illya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov that used to be a cult back in Soviet times. Just like millions of other people of my generation, I can quote this fabulous novel by heart.
Also, the monument has been portrayed by its sculptors Volodymyr Schur and Vitali Sivko after Zinovi Gerdt, the greatest Soviet actor who had brilliantly played Panikovski in the respective movie. Zinovi Gerdt made this thief and scam artist truly charming!
So it’s no wonder I never miss a chance to approach this awesome monument whenever I’m nearby.
Panikovski, according to the novel, had been making his living not far from this place on Prorizna where the statue was established. The monument captures one moment of the “working day” of this “Greatest Blind”: Mikhail Samuelevych is crossing Khreshchatyk with the help of some compassionate passer-by, and his left hand is reaching the poor fellow’s pocket. This is why his posture is so unusual, and you might see people having their pictures taken with the monument’s hand in their pockets.
There’s another hidden trick about this monument that we, locals, know, but many visitors might miss.
Look down at his feet: Panikovski is stepping on the coin. We believe that touching his shoe or dropping a coin near this statue brings financial soundness. But if you look in the mirror at his shoe bottom, you’ll see... (better look at the picture attached). That was the authors’ joke – they wanted people to bow to this greatest scammer, but also to warn them against being too naïve and gullible.
Panikovski monument is adored by Kyivans, me including. Unfortunately, it’s is also fancied by vandals that steal its walking stick from time to time. What a bitter irony!
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