(a little background, Matsuev is the pianist who recorded ‘tribute to horowitz’, all horowitz transcription CD)
Russians spend millions to pull pranks on friends
January 17, 2006
WEALTHY Russians, looking for new ways to amuse themselves have started a growing trend.
They are paying huge sums to have elaborate practical jokes played on friends and associates. And they don’t hesitate to use the police or pay a company to set up the hoaxes.
London’s Sunday Times reported that when Mr Denis Matsuev, one of Russia’s best-known pianists, turned 30 recently, his friends didn’t give him a champagne party. Instead they arranged for him to be arrested.
As part of a carefully planned practical joke, Mr Matsuev was met at a Moscow railway station by real armed police, put in their van and threatened with torture.
But instead of taking him to prison, the police delivered Mr Matsuev to his friends, who had put a piano on the van so that he could play while driving around the city under police escort.
Mr Matsuev, who claims to have enjoyed his 15,000 ($43,000) birthday treat said: ‘I was so scared I nearly passed out.’
Russians are paying millions of roubles for elaborate pranks organised by a company that promises to cater for the most bizarre sense of humour, the newspaper reported.
‘Our clients are people with money, influence and taste,’ said Mr Sergei Knyazev, whose company sets up the practical jokes. He said he was inspired by The Game, a film in which Hollywood star Michael Douglas plays a businessman whose brother pays a firm to spice up his mundane life with dramatic events.
One of the ruses in Mr Knyazev’s catalogue of jokes, yet to be ordered, is called Robinson Crusoe. For 20,000 a group of up to five friends are invited on to a yacht and shipwrecked on an island with no food or shelter.
Other jokes, already used, include having ‘heroin’ planted in the car of an unsuspecting businessman. He was then locked in a cell for hours with actors posing as criminals and questioned by an ‘investigator’ who threatened him with a 15-year jail sentence.
The escapade cost his friends 50,000 and included a stunt in which he was tricked into believing at one point that he would receive an award from President Vladimir Putin.
Another popular prank is to invite friends to a party at an isolated Russian country house or dacha on Moscow’s outskirts.
After a while the host vanishes, the phone lines are cut and the guests are locked in. For an extra fee, an actor posing as an axe-wielding maniac can break in.
newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story … 33,00.html