Priceless masterpieces stuck in limbo as Russian sanctions bite

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He said: ‘Under UK seizure immunity legislation, loans must be returned to the Russian state, but the problem may be getting them back as there is currently no theft from the UK. United, or most of Europe, to Russia. In the past, works were often flown to Finland and then overland to Russia, but I think the Finns have also closed their border with Russia.

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has canceled dozens of Russian loans for a major exhibition on the relationship between the Russian avant-garde and Russian icons. It had been planned for many years.

Alexander Sturgis, its director, said: “There is simply no way to get the paintings out of the country. I am pessimistic about when we will be able to do such a thing again. Our argument is with Putin and his government, not with Russians and Russian culture. It’s just a big shame.

Other works include Picasso’s Young Woman, on loan from the Hermitage for an innovative exhibition inspired by this Cubist masterpiece at the Alda Fendi Foundation in Rome.

Asked how it will be returned, Raffaele Curi, artistic director of the foundation, said: “The truth is that none of us know anything. We don’t know the actual measurements. I believe that, in the current state of things, the work of art will remain in Italy for a long time.

The issue of art insurance

Although there is an exception for the transfer of cultural property to Russia in EU sanctions, there is confusion about insurance.

All insurance for Russians and Russian entities on a sanctions list has been suspended, according to Adam Prideaux, managing director of Hallett Independent, an art insurance broker.

He said: “Insurers cannot receive premiums or pay claims. Moreover, the new sanctions package against Russia includes luxury goods and, unfortunately, fine arts fall into this category.

“There is no clear definition of what constitutes Russian Affiliate Risk and therefore as it stands almost all art insurers do not renew or accept new business. ‘a Russian person or entity, sanctioned or not.’

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