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.


  1. My $200 phone has more functionality than a $30k watch. Apparently God wants you to know the time, but not the weather, when you have an appointment scheduled, if someone is trying to get in touch with you, or to play Angry Birds.

    1. No kidding. 

      Also, crowns usually make really bad hats (let the rain through, you know?),  a Lamborghini doesn’t get you faster through Manhattan than a Buick and  lynx displays boing boing just fine.

      1.  Lynx (and w3m, which I prefer) may display BB just fine (at least the text parts), but you can’t make comments when using it).

        1. Sounds like you need to found a religion and pick one up. Just don’t drive it around lakes in case you need to photoshop it out of the picture to prove that you’re not just a corrupt charlatan.

  2. So the priest has a $30,000 watch?  No wonder the commies tried to stomp out religion. Shows you how much of a joke/lie it is. Please give to the poor- my poor wrist.

    1.  He’s a bishop and his personal fortune is estimated north of $4 billion.

      This is Russia, where the commies are the richest!

      1. From the Time’s article : “A gross violation of our internal ethics has occurred, and it will be
        thoroughly investigated,” the church said in a statement. “The guilty will be severely punished.”

        Yeah- punish the jerkoff WEARING IT!

  3. What’s weird about this was that the Patriarch’s handlers wanted to delete the watch in the first place. There’s no oath of poverty required. Much like the Pope, it’s well known that the Patriarch lives a life of luxury unavailable to his flock.

    1. Given what the Bible says about wealth, all minstream-ish Christian religious leaders are incredible hypocrites, but there is still a difference between ceremonial wealth (fancy outfits/residences/transportation) and personal luxuries. The Pope with a $30,000 watch would be offensive as well.

      1. ” The Pope with a $30,000 watch would be offensive as well.”

        That’s probably the price of his outfit.
        When I visit most churches in Rome I am disgusted, not awed, by the amount of civilisation that could have been built with all this wealth, had it not been converted to decorative gold to impress the gullibles.

        1. “Impress” is the wrong word here.  It should be something like, “decorative gold to inform the gullibles who their owners are.”

      1. What’s awesome is that the hat in question appears 3/4 of the way down the page. Thank you for linking it. I love the silly hats.

      2. Fine bunch of ridiculous headgear. I suspect the foolishness above the head directly reflects the foolishness within. (former Catholic altar boy, now science educated atheist)

  4. Religion is the best business in post-communistic Europe. Rising nationalism, and countries fragmentation based on the ethnicity and religion, were first steps toward democracy… And even wars here in former-Yugoslavia…

  5. What exactly is the problem with an expensive watch anyway. If the Pope had an expensive watch on no one would care, would they? Is there something about Russian Orthodox theology that prohibits the wearing of high priced time pieces? It’s not like he bought it with the church’s money (tell me he didn’t buy it with the church’s money).

      1. Last I checked owning expensive stuff was not the same thing as greed. Now, if he is expected to take a vow of poverty or something, then all this makes sense, I just have not seen that reported.

        1. Owning expensive, useless shit is indeed greedy, and Christians were called by Jesus to give all their possessions away and help the poor. The church has a funny way of interpreting that bit.

          1.  But what do you do if your friend gives you an expensive watch? Expensive watches are quite often gifts. What did Jesus do with the frankincense, gold and myrrh?

          2. Presumably, his parents used it to bump somebody else into the manger so they could get a hotel room.

          3. Well, if you’re the primate of a church that extols the virtues of poverty and charity I would think you’d sell it and feed some poor people or something.

    1. I can’t imagine the Holy Father wearing a watch. Surely there’s a Papal Horologist who consults the heavens to make sure that he doesn’t show up late for mass.

  6. That’s why the Monks were made to be celibate, so that their inheritances reverted to the Mother Church, instead of to their Families. Now I could be wrong but I read that somewhere in my younger years, when studying the History of the Roman Catholic Church. How else was the RCC going to hold onto it’s vast fortunes, if the married monks were giving away their monies to their families upon death. There’s no Business better than Religion, other than Bootlegging. Two things that are sure fire sellers in troubled times, God & Booze!

    I always wondered why God needed Fancy Churches, and Robes and Vestments and the like? Does it help with prayer reception? Maybe one day, future archaeologist will tell of the riches and wonders buried under the Vatican.

    1. ” Maybe one day, future archaeologist will tell of the riches and wonders buried under the Vatican.”

      Well, for one thing we already know that the most complete porn collection in the world is there. Nicknamed ‘The Hell’, it’s the collection of every book ever banned by the church, going back centuries. Access is _very_ restricted to scholars.

      1. But most of that stuff is really dull theology wonk, such as ‘Jesus was man, then God’ or a listing of extra (or too few) ranks of angels. 

  7. The primary purpose of a $30,000 watch is to keep some Swiss employed.

    Repeater watches are the utter pinnacle of gadgetry. You push a button, tiny gongs ring out Westminster chiming, and you know the time.

    Unfortunately they’re usually packaged in 18k gold and straps made from leather hand-tanned from Kobe cattle, or some such utter rarity, and the price tag sometimes does not include scheduled maintenance (yes, $30,000 watches require tuning and oil changes).

    Or I could buy a $5 Casio with a repeater function. $29,950 buys a lot of meals for starving children.

    1. I bought a really nice alarm clock a couple of decades ago and the damn thing was in the shop every month. The $5 plastic one from the drugstore’s been running for fifteen years. Ugly never dies.

  8. Wait wait woah, Boing Boing. You don’t get to run this mocking article AND run expensive watch ads. Do you?

    1.  So what you’re saying is that the Patriarch’s watch is just part of a advertising deal between the Russian Orthodox church and Breguet?

      Because otherwise your criticism doesn’t make very much sense.

  9. Wait a sec–is that Barbara Streisand’s watch? ‘Cause it seems to be telling the same time.

  10. I’m tired of all you Boingers dissing the great artists of our day.

    Most philistines just don’t ‘get’ the Patriarch, one of the worlds premier surrealists, that’s why he deliberately left the reflection of the watch on the table surface in the artwork.

    This piece is called “The Impossibility of the Concept of Bling in the Mind of Someone Without Thirty Thousand Dollars in Spare Change”

    It’s a meditation reflecting the poverty of our imagination when we experience time but we can’t see it.

    It’s deep yo.

  11. In the patriarch’s defense, he probably has a retinue of servants who dress him, so he may not be aware of what’s on his wrists.  That’s probably how the silly hat thing started, a disgruntled servant put it on his head, and no one was brave enough to point out the silliness of his gold spangled beanie, so everyone got used to it after a couple centuries.  

  12. Poor guy isn’t even allowed to express himself in his bling.

    In America, you just wear your watch.

    In Soviet Russia, just watch where you’re you!

Comments are closed.