Ukraine tracks Russian artwork under sanctions

The Ukrainian government has set up a database managed by the National Corruption Prevention Agency (NACP) to prevent Russian oligarchs under Western sanctions from using the art market to evade sanctions and money laundering money. This database, named War & Artlists works of art acquired and sold by Russians since 2014, when the Russo-Ukrainian war began.

The NACP explains in a press release that “Russian oligarchs, despite the sanctions imposed on them, can still easily hide and launder their money through art objects. Paintings, sculptures, artistic jewelry are used as a loophole to circumvent sanctions”.

The aim of the database is to facilitate sanctions checks carried out by “virtuous players in the art market”make it difficult for Russian oligarchs to sell these goods and “preventing the illegal trade in art and antiques stolen by the occupiers in Ukraine during the war”.

The current, searchable list includes around 300 art objects. Among them are famous works that the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, sold at auction at Christie’s for the record sum of $450.3 million in 2017 by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, as well as the painting Four Marilyns by Andy Warhol (1961). The base also includes works by Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.

Each sheet gives details about the work of art, such as the name of the artist, its estimated value and its connection to the people sanctioned. The portal also has an interface allowing users to report other affected artworks and their owners.

Among the collectors highlighted in the database are Russian billionaires Petr Aven, Vyacheslav Kantor, Andrey Melnichenko and Arkady Rotenberg. All have been subject to economic sanctions by the European Union, the United Kingdom or the United States in recent years because of their support for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Dasha Zhukova, founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and a board member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is also mentioned in the database, although she did not have been sanctioned. Dasha Zhukova was formerly married to Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire who has been under sanctions from the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand since 2022 over of his links with Putin.

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