Some of the art world’s greatest treasures have found themselves at the centre of an international row. But for Russia, all is well that ends well. Trouble flared in Switzerland where paintings on loan from Moscow’s Pushkin museum had been on display.
The works, insured to the value of nearly a billion euros, were confiscated by Swiss authorities. Officials were apparently acting at the request of a Swiss firm that has long claimed repayment of debts from the Russian state. Import-export company Noga claims Moscow owes it cash but has broken its contractual obligations.
That is why the firm has made several high-profile attempts to seize Russian assets in a bid to win back the debt. Amid outrage at the Pushkin museum, the Swiss government met in special session. The outcome is that the artworks, including paintings by Picasso and Van Gogh, are immediately being returned to Russia.