A maths genius who won fame last week for apparently spurning a million-dollar prize is living with his mother in a humble flat in St Petersburg, co-existing on her £30-a-month pension, because he has been unemployed since December.
The Sunday Telegraph tracked down the eccentric recluse who stunned the maths world when he solved a century-old puzzle known as the Poincaré Conjecture.
Grigory "Grisha" Perelman's predicament stems from an acrimonious split with a leading Russian mathematical institute, the Steklov, in 2003. When the Institute in St Petersburg failed to re-elect him as a member, Dr Perelman, 40, was left feeling an "absolutely ungifted and untalented person", said a friend. He had a crisis of confidence and cut himself off.
Other friends say he cannot afford to travel to this week's International Mathematical Union's congress in Madrid, where his peers want him to receive the maths equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and that he is too modest to ask anyone to underwrite his trip.
Interviewed in St Petersburg last week, Dr Perelman insisted that he was unworthy of all the attention, and was uninterested in his windfall. "I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest," he said. "I am not saying that because I value my privacy, or that I am doing anything I want to hide. There are no top-secret projects going on here. I just believe the public has no interest in me."
Sylvia Nasar (who wrote A Beautiful Mind) is on the case. She and David Gruber have a piece in this weeks New Yorker, which, unfortunately, is not on line.