The Morozov collection caught in the turmoil of war in Ukraine

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While the flagship exhibition of the Louis Vuitton Foundation ended this week, the Ministry of Culture announced on Saturday that two paintings from the Morozov collection would remain in Paris. One belongs to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, the other is the property of a Ukrainian museum and will be temporarily kept in France for security reasons.

The war in Ukraine has finally caught up with the Morozov collection, exhibited until last week in Paris: two paintings, including that belonging to the Russian oligarch Petr Aven, targeted by a freezing of his assets, will remain in France instead of returning in their country.

This is the first time that this vast collection, made up of Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, as well as works by Russian painters such as Malevich and Repin, has left Russia to be exhibited abroad.

While the exhibition ended last Sunday and was being dismantled this week, the Ministry of Culture announced on Saturday April 9 to AFP that two paintings would remain in France.

For the first, the measure will last as long as “its owner, a Russian oligarch, remains subject to an asset freezing measure,” said the ministry, without giving the name of the owner.

According to a source familiar with the matter, it is Petr Aven, close to Vladimir Putin, who appears on the list of Russian personalities subject to Western sanctions. The painting in question is a self-portrait by Piotr Konchalovski, dating from 1911.

The billionaire, who announced his withdrawal from the LetterOne investment fund in mid-March, is a major art collector who has loaned several of his works in the past, notably to MoMA in New York and the Royal Academy in London.

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The second painting – a portrait of Margarita Morozova by the painter Serov – will remain in France “at the request of the Ukrainian authorities. It belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts in Dnipro [ou Dnipropetrovsk]in eastern Ukraine, and could be damaged.

A third work “held by a private foundation, linked to another oligarch who has just been added to the list of personalities targeted by freezing measures, is the subject of an examination by the State services”, added the ministry.

These are the private Magma foundation and the oligarch Vyacheslav Kantor, whose painting by the painter Serov representing a relative of the Morozov family is also part of the collection, we learned from a source close to the file.

Asked by AFP, the Louis Vuitton Foundation said it would “respect the government’s decision”.

successful exhibition

About 200 works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Bonnard, Monet or Manet have been exhibited since September 22 at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, west of Paris, alongside Russian painters such as Golovine, Gontcharova, Korovin, Mashkov, Malevich, Melnikov, Repin, Serov…

These masterpieces were brought together by the two brothers Mikhaïl and Ivan Morozov, industrialists passionate about modern art at the turn of the 19th century.and and XXand centuries.

Most of the works must return to their original institutions, mainly the Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, as well as the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Even within the framework of European sanctions, EU Member States can derogate from the ban on the transfer and export to Russia of works of art when these works have been loaned in the framework of cooperation official cultural relationship with Russia, the ministry said.

Questioned several times by AFP, the Louis Vuitton foundation did not wish to provide more details as to the mode of transport for security reasons in particular.

The exhibition, extended until April 3, when it was to end on February 22, brought together more than a million visitors and could exceed in terms of attendance that of another great Russian collector, Sergei Chtchoukine, which had attracted 1.29 million visitors in 2016-2017 to the private foundation. A record for an art exhibition in France.

The final attendance figures for the Morozov exhibition will be known early next week.

With AFP

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