Art Belonging to Fugitive Russian Billionaire Found Stashed in Storage Unit Near Moscow

The works had been missing from Alexei Ananyev's museum since 2017

Alexei Ananyev
The Institute of Russian Realist Art museum, owned by fugitive billionaires Dmitry and Alexei Ananyev.
Vladimir GerdoTASS via Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / November 14, 2019 6:00 am

A massive collection of paintings and rare books missing from the museum of wanted Russian billionaire Alexei Ananyev have been discovered in a storage facility near Moscow, The Art Newspaper reported.

The art collection, for which Ananyev had received much admiration on the Russian cultural scene, was found stashed near a church. According to The Art Newspaper, the news was first reported last week by gonzo-journalism site, who broke the story along with images and video of the discovered works.

Ananyev and his brother Dmitry made their fortune in IT and banking, and had an estimated fortune of $1.4 billion in 2017, according to Forbes. In September, a Moscow court ruled to arrest the brothers in absentia for embezzlement of more than 100 billion rubles ($1.6 billion).

When the brothers’ bank, Promsvyazbank, was bailed out by the state in 2017, new management claimed hundreds of millions of rubles worth of art had vanished from the Institute of Russian Realist Art. The museum denied the claims, and has been “closed indefinitely” for months, according to its website. Some media reports claimed the paintings had been transferred to a Cypriot company linked to Ananyev’s wife.

According to Andrei Knyazev, a leading Moscow lawyer, the rediscovered works will likely be distributed throughout state museums.

“When items of artistic and historical value are seized, they will not be auctioned off,” Kynazev told Kommersant FM radio. “But there is no principle by which they are distributed, in this case there will be many contenders and likely it will be determined who will be able to most diligently manage the collection and display it.”

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