Politics

France Confiscates Sanctioned Russian Oligarch’s Oil Painting: Report

  • France confiscated a painting owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Petr Aven, AFP reported.
  • The painting is a self-portrait by the Russian artist Pyotr Konchalovsky, AFP said.
  • The artwork had been hung at an exhibition in Paris that closed on April 3.

France has confiscated an oil painting owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Petr Aven, AFP reported.

France’s culture ministry said Saturday that the painting, a self-portrait by the Russian artist Pyotr Konchalovsky, would stay in France as long as its owner remained targeted by an asset freeze, per AFP.

The culture ministry didn’t name the owner of the painting but AFP cited a source as saying it was owned by Aven.

The painting appeared at an exhibition at the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris that closed on April 3.

According to AFP, the ministry said a second painting, “Margarita Morozova,” by the Russian artist Valentin Serov, which belongs to Ukraine’s fine arts museum in Dnipro, would remain in France at the request of Ukraine.

The status of a third painting, which a source identified to AFP as belonging to another Russian oligarch, was still thought to be under consideration by the ministry, the news agency said.

Aven, Kantor, the French culture ministry, and the Foundation Louis Vuitton did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

The Art Newspaper reported that the paintings seized by France’s culture ministry form part of the Morozov collection, which is worth $1.5 billion and includes works by Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso.

A government official who did not wish to be named told the publication: “In spite of everything, and the horrendous news coming from Ukraine, we have a duty to protect cultural exchanges.” 

Both Aven and Kantor are the subject of EU and UK sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine. The sanctions have led to the seizure of billions of dollars’ worth of oligarchs’ assets, including superyachts, private jets, and artwork.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Finland impounded $46 million worth of art bound for Russia, citing sanctions. However, it was later announced that most of these works would be returned.

Some Russian billionaires are engaged in battles to recover art they lent for exhibitions in countries across the world. These items are in a legislative gray area, with Reuters reporting a change by the EU to make cultural items exempt from sanctions, which came into effect on April 9.



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