scorecardUkraine is tracking Da Vincis and Warhols on the art market to stop sanctioned Russian oligarchs cashing in by selling their assets
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Ukraine is tracking Da Vincis and Warhols on the art market to stop sanctioned Russian oligarchs cashing in by selling their assets

Mia Jankowicz   

Ukraine is tracking Da Vincis and Warhols on the art market to stop sanctioned Russian oligarchs cashing in by selling their assets
LifeInternational2 min read
  • Ukraine has launched a site to track $1.3 billion of art owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
  • The site lists artworks like Picassos and Warhols believed to be bought and sold by sanctioned figures.

Ukraine's national anti-corruption agency is zeroing in on one of the most colorful — and poorly regulated — places where sanctioned Russians can move cash: the art market.

The National Agency on Corruption Prevention has launched a database that tracks $1.3 billion worth of art it says was recently bought or sold by sanctioned Russian oligarchs, including a Monet lily pond painting, a Da Vinci depiction of Christ, and a Picasso portrait.

The database, it says, will allow art market actors to check that they are not dealing in sanctioned goods.

"Russian oligarchs, despite the sanctions imposed on them, can still easily hide and launder their money through art objects," the agency wrote on its newly-launched page. "Painting, sculptures, artistic jewelry — this is exactly what is used as a loophole to circumvent sanctions."

The site's "War and Art" section, it said, has the ultimate goal of allowing such assets to be frozen, confiscated, or transferred to Ukraine.

The works listed in the corruption agency's current database involve some instantly-recognizable names and images: a $10.4 million model of Auguste Rodin's "Thinker," for example, is listed as being owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a billionaire oligarch sanctioned by Ukraine, who also owns Monaco's soccer club.

Ukrainian-born, Russian-Israeli oligarch Mikhail Fridman, who is sanctioned by the EU and the UK, is said to own an iconic Andy Warhol screenprint of Marilyn Monroe worth $38.2 million.

And a Wassily Kandinsky study, valued at $23 million, is listed as owned by Petr Aven, an oligarch sanctioned by the UK who has strong ties to President Vladimir Putin.

The agency is also asking for open-source information on the ownership of other works.

Art dealings can be a perfect vehicle for the quiet transfer of assets, largely taking place away from the public eye. There is also no formal register of ownership, making sales very difficult to track.

Similar projects, such as the Art Loss Register, have long been used by art dealers and insurers to check the provenance of an object and to make sure it is not registered as stolen.




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