French authorities seize Oligarch’s painting before he left for Russia


The spokesman declined to say where the work was taking place, “for obvious security reasons”.

Until April 3, the two paintings were exhibited at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris as part of “The Morozov Collection: Icons of Modern Art”, a huge exhibition of works that belonged to Russian textile magnates Ivan and Mikhail Morozov. . Their collection, which includes works by Gauguin, Van Gogh and Picasso, was expropriated about a century ago, after the October Revolution, and became state property.

Most of the paintings in the exhibition came from Russian state museums, including the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. Under a 1994 French law aimed at encouraging international art loans, these works cannot be seized by French authorities because they were loaned by a foreign government, said Freda Matassa, an art consultant who helped develop a similar anti-foreclosure law in Britain.

But, Ms. Matassa said, French law does not apply to works owned by individuals.

Representatives for Mr. Aven and the Museum of Vanguard Mastery did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the Louis Vuitton Foundation said she would not comment either.

Even before the seizures, some art transport companies expected that works from the “Morozov Collection” would face difficulties returning to Russia, as the war in Ukraine interrupted traditional air freight routes. and road. The most direct route to Russia from Western Europe now passes through Finland, but Finnish customs officers last week seized three shipments of artwork at the border between the two countries, suspecting the shipment had violates European Union sanctions. The works were quickly made public when it became clear that they did not fall within the scope of the sanctions.

The French culture ministry said it also kept a third painting from the “Morozov Collection” in Paris for security reasons. This work, ‘Portrait of Margarita Kirillovna Morozova’ (1910), by Serov, belongs to the Dnipropetrovsk Art Museum, in the city of Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, which is soon to be the subject of a Russian assault. Ukrainian authorities have requested that the painting remain in Paris until it can be returned safely, the culture ministry spokesperson said.


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