An investigation by The Guardian newspaper has revealed that the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova amassed a group of 367 works valued at $963m, that includes artists akin to Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, René Magritte, Paula Rego and Lucian Freud. Round 2014, the gathering was saved in a warehouse in south London, although its whereabouts at this time are unknown.
Abramovich, the previous proprietor of Chelsea soccer membership within the UK, and Zhukova acquired what consultants imagine is “probably the most important non-public collections of contemporary artwork ever assembled, a trove of greater than 300 items whose price was estimated by the oligarch’s personal assessors at virtually $1bn”. Russian modernists akin to Natalia Goncharova and Véra Rockline are additionally represented within the assortment together with Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and David Hockney.
In 2008, The Artwork Newspaper revealed that Abramovich was the customer of Bacon’s Triptych, 1976, which offered at Sotheby’s New York on 14 Could that yr for $86.3m in addition to Lucian Freud’s Advantages Supervisor Sleeping (1995), auctioned at Christie’s the earlier night for $33.6m. Each works made public sale historical past: the Bacon set the best public sale worth ever for a post-war murals, whereas Freud grew to become the costliest residing artist, snatching the title from Jeff Koons.
The small print of Abramovich’s artwork assortment got here to mild due to the Oligarch Information, a leak from the Cyprus-based offshore monetary providers supplier MeritServus, analysed in collaboration with the OCCRP (Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Undertaking) and different worldwide media companions.
The Guardian says that information, which run till March 2022, present that an organization known as Seline-Make investments, initially included within the British Virgin Islands and redomiciled in 2017 to Jersey, owned the works. It acquired them in 2017 and 2018 from the Concord Belief, of which Abramovich was the only beneficiary, by way of a sequence of 11 transactions.
Seline-Make investments was in flip managed by a Cyprus-based belief, the Ermis Belief Settlement, initially arrange in 2010 for the only advantage of Abramovich. In February final yr, by way of a “deed of modification”, Zhukova grew to become “irrevocably entitled to 51%” of the belief’s distributions, the paperwork state. The Guardian reviews that it understands that no items from the gathering have been offered or disposed of for the reason that change of helpful curiosity final yr.
In March final yr Abramovich was put below sanctions by the UK authorities and the European Union although his lawyer informed a courtroom earlier this yr that he has no hyperlinks to Russia’s warfare in Ukraine. In keeping with Forbes, he owns stakes within the Russian metal big Evraz and nickel producer Norilsk Nickel and is price $9bn.
Crucially The Guardian states: “There is no such thing as a suggestion that Zhukova has ever taken any steps designed to undermine sanctions, together with in reference to the gathering. The artwork was owned by the belief, reasonably than by her, and she or he couldn’t make selections on its behalf.”
The gathering isn’t topic to an asset freezing order, however the sanctions on Abramovich meant a mortgage settlement with the Ermis Belief, linked to works by Lucian Freud, couldn’t go forward with the Nationwide Gallery in London final yr for the present Lucian Freud: New Views. Different works from the gathering have been loaned out, nevertheless, together with two works by Paula Rego which had been proven at her Tate Britain retrospective in 2021.
Abramovich co-founded the Storage Museum of Up to date Artwork in Moscow with Zhukova, whose most up-to-date Instagram put up exhibits the artist Ed Ruscha on the Museum of Trendy Artwork in New York (within the 2019-20 MoMA annual assessment, she is listed as a donor to MoMA PS1). On the time of publication, neither Abramovich nor Zhukova may very well be reached for remark.