This church scandal in Russia involves Photoshop, and a disappearing $30K watch

You can tell by the pixels: The Russian Orthodox Church is accused of Photoshopping a photo on their website of Patriarch Kirill I to "disappear" a $30,000 watch. The church leader has previously said that the watch does not exist.

Where a Breguet timepiece once existed, the 'shoop extended his black sleeve, but the sloppy 'shooper failed to address the reflection of the watch on the table. The church dismissed the discrepancy as a “technical mistake,” and has since published a version of the photo which includes the Swiss timepiece. The Patriarchate vowed to investigate the image manipulation, and said "the guilty ones will be punished severely".

Cropped details of both versions are shown above.

Patriarch Kirill still insists he never wore the watch, and that the photo which shows him wearing it was altered. Of course!

More in the New York Times, BBC News, and the Associated Press. Russian bloggers are creating image macros and artful remixes, including this one, below, in which everything but that tell-tale watch reflection is gone.

The moral of this story: $30K will buy you a lot of high-quality Photoshop. Skip the bling, and hire a more competent photo retoucher to absolve your worldly sins.