Finland confiscated €42 million worth of Russian works of art, and France refuses to return paintings to Russian billionaires

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At one of the Finnish customs, three batches of paintings and sculptures bound for Russia were seized.

About this reports write Finnish edition of Yle.

Last weekend, the customs stopped three cargoes with works of art at the Vaalimaa border crossing due to the introduction of EU sanctions against the Russian Federation.

Art objects, which were previously exhibited in Italy and Japan, were headed back to Russia through the border with Finland. Some of them belong to the largest museums of the occupying country. They were taken out of the country as part of an exchange of collections. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, commented that the customs officers are obliged to strictly comply with EU regulations, so they had the right to detain the cargo. At the same time, he noted that Finland does not intend to "appropriate" works of art and hopes for a quick resolution of this issue. 

Tullin kuva takavarikoidusta venäläisomaizusdeka aprurilassa 2022.

Detained shipments with works of art belonging to Russia. Photo: TULLI

Currently, valuable items are stored taking into account their value, characteristics and security in Helsinki. Among them are paintings, statues and other antiques. According to preliminary information, the cargo remained unpacked.

However, in the near future they may be delivered to Russia, as the EU has made point changes in the sanctions rules, according to which the transportation of works of art between museums will be available.

At the same time, in France, after the exhibition, they refused to return the paintings by Konchalovsky and Serov, which were exhibited as part of the Fondation Louis Vuitton exhibition in Paris. Such a decision approved the French government due to the fact that the canvases are associated with Russian oligarchs who were previously under sanctions.

Konchalovsky's painting "Self-Portrait in Gray", which belongs to Russian billionaire Pyotr Aven, "will be in France until its owner is subject to sanctions with the freezing of assets."

Another painting, "Portrait of Timofey Morozov" by Serov, was loaned for the exhibition by the Moscow Museum of Avant-Garde Art. The president of this museum, a close friend of Putin, billionaire Vyacheslav Kanto, was also sanctioned. 

War in Ukraine: France seized 2 Russian paintings from the Morozov collection —

"Self-Portrait in Gray" by Konchalovsky (1911). Photo: open sources

The ministry said that "the canvas will remain in France until the situation in the country allows creating conditions for a safe return."

We will remind that the day before the Seoul Museum refused in the return of paintings at the request of Russian museums due to the war in Ukraine, and European museums stated, who cannot deliver works of art back to the Russian Federation due to anti-Russian sanctions.



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