War & Sanctions is a project of the Ukrainian NACP (National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption) which is responsible for monitoring and making public the names of subjects sanctioned by various world authorities. So let's talk about companies and people who are actively supporting Russia in its bloody invasion of Ukraine. It is important not to have relationships with these sanctioned entities, because it would mean involving your business or your person directly in the conflict, with all the legal consequences that collaboration with a sanctioned entity would entail.
But there is another aspect linked to sanctions which concerns the trade in works of art. War & Art is a database that contains the list of works of art in the possession of sanctioned oligarchs and reports which artistic artefacts were stolen by the Russian army during the invasion of Ukraine and which could be resold on the art black market.
Artworks owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs
Among the paintings in the hands of the oligarch Roman Abramovich for example we find works by Bacon, Mondrian, Pollock, Schiele for a total value estimated by War & Art of over 193 million dollars
The artistic heritage in the hands of a small handful of sanctioned oligarchs is shocking to say the least and, according to the estimates of War & Art to date it would be around 2,5 billion dollars. Yes, you read that correctly. The collections of paintings and sculptures owned by the international criminal's accomplices putin they really are unbelievable.
Among the paintings in the hands of the oligarch Roman Abramovich for example we find works by Bacon, Mondrian, Pollock, Schiele for a total value estimated by War & Art of over 193 million dollars.
But not only Abramovich's collection is shocking.
Petr Aven, Russian banker and politician, head of Alfa Bank until it was hit by international sanctions, owns paintings by Chagall and Kandinsky (among others) and dozens of sculptures and artifacts of inestimable value.
A separate case is the collection ofoligarch Rybolovlev which would make the most esteemed museums in the world pale in comparison. In the hands of the sanctioned Rybolovlev there are works by Gauguin, Picasso, Rothko, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Klimt for an estimated wealth of over 1 billion dollars. Rybolovlev was also the owner of the controversial Salvador Mundi by Leonardo, subsequently sold at an auction by Christie's and whose authenticity is still debated today.
The works stolen by the Russians in Ukraine
As if it were a script already written and read a thousand and more times, the invaders in Ukraine are doing what all the retreating armies of all the wars fought so far have done. That is, sacking the museums of occupied cities like barbarians to steal the most valuable pieces. The same thing happened in Ukraine and War & Art is trying to keep track of this wealth stolen by Russian criminals to try to prevent their sale on the art black market as much as possible. These are often ancient artefacts, of inestimable value.
It's a return to the era of Nazi occupation in Europe in the Second World War, when the museums of the nations invaded by Hitler were looted to deliver the works of art directly to the rich homes of the highest ranking hierarchs.
Why keeping track of these works of art is important
A Russian oligarch could in fact resort to selling part of his artistic heritage to cover the losses accumulated in months of sanctions
Tracing works of art into the hands of sanctioned oligarchs is a major deterrent for prevent the buying and selling of these works which, as the owner is under sanction, cannot be exchanged on our markets. A Russian oligarch could in fact resort to selling part of his artistic heritage to cover the losses accumulated in months of economic sanctions against Russia and to make up for the freezing of his assets blocked in those countries that are adhering to international sanctions.
Trading with sanctioned individuals is illegal.
In the same way, keeping track of the artistic heritage stolen by the Russian occupiers is of fundamental importance both to prevent the immediate exchange of these works on the black market, but also to have a basis on which to start again to regain at least part of the works stolen from the end of the war. It will be difficult, we know, but at least we are already working on it.