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Russian oligarchs have been quietly trying to unload some of their pricey artworks with European galleries, sources told Page Six, as the billionaires worry their works could be seized as part of sanctions against them.
“About six Russian oligarchs are trying to quietly sell major works by Picasso, Warhol, Jeff Koons, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Damien Hirst and Basquiat in the $30 million to $100 million range,” an art insider said.
“They are looking to cash out quickly as they are afraid the collections will be seized.”
However, the source added that it’ll be difficult for the Russian moguls to unload the art. So far, the galleries won’t touch the stuff.
“With the landscape of sanctions changing so rapidly, that person you do a deal with now may be on a sanctions list two weeks from now,” one expert told Bloomberg.
“Presumably, a person who’s hit the sanctions list would want to move their art out of harm’s way. But anyone who helps that kind of move, if it’s prohibited, would be crazy to be involved in it,” another expert said.
“You’re not going to get a shipper to help move the work, you’re not going to get a lawyer to help with the transaction; no insurance company will engage. You can probably take a minivan yourself and drive the art into the countryside, but that’s about it.”
Some Russian players have art stashed in “free ports,” the warehouses where the superrich keep valuables tax-free and their names don’t always need to be known.
But with Switzerland slapping down sanctions, “Oligarchs are nervous the art will be confiscated,” said our source. “Some of it is being brought back to Russia to escape seizure.”
Russian tycoons have become major players in the art world.
Reports have said that Petr Olegovich Aven, who heads Russia’s largest commercial bank, has left the board of London’s Royal Academy, while Vladimir Potanin stepped down from the Guggenheim.
The sanctions have been an attempt to pressure Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
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