Meeting Lenin and other celebrities

  • 2000-08-24
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - It is no longer necessary to go to the Grutas Park of Soviet sculptures in southern Lithuania to see a portrayal of Lenin. Plenty of faces of this icon of communism can be found in the very center of Vilnius' Old Town in a courtyard just off Pilies Street. This attraction is Vidas Maulius' antique shop.

Usually these portraits provoke laughter from passers-by in Old Town's busiest narrow street.

Maulius brought a couple of portraits of Lenin to Pilies Street for fun and to advertise his business. It is the perfect advertisement for his collection.

Outside his antique art shop there stands a mannequin dressed in the military uniform of communist East Germany.

"When his German Democratic Republic cap was stolen, I replaced it with a Soviet military cap," Maulius said.

Maulius' collection inside is eclectic. It includes portraits and sculptures of Lenin, Christ, St. Peter, Napoleon, Stalin and Petras Skarga, rector of Vilnius University in the 16th century.

Some of the pieces were made decades ago, some even centuries ago.

"I also had a portrait of Hitler, but it was bought by a museum recently," Maulius said.

A visitor can buy whatever he likes in this exhibition. At the moment, Maulius possesses some 10 portraits and sculptures of Lenin. They cost from 40 litas ($10) to 4,000 litas ($1,000).

However, the Lenins are just a trick to entice foreign tourists into his shop. Maulius also has a valuable collection of Russian Orthodox icons, Catholic crucifixes, clocks, china, cigarette cases and other antiques as well as modern Lithuanian paintings.

Russian icons dominate the antique shop.

"The cheapest icon costs 200 litas," Maulius said.

Most of Maulius' stuff is rather tasteless. However, it is lack of taste with historic flavor and even charm.