Ukraine Launched a Database on Sanctioned Russians Artworks

Ukraine Has Launched an Online Database Called "Art and War", That Lists Artworks Owned by Sanctioned Russian Oligarchs.

Aug 10, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
ELIA, Ukraine
ELIA platform in Ukraine, Photo: Oleksandr Osipov


Ukraine and its authorities created an online database and tools, which will help them determine which Russian oligarchs fall under sanctions. Also, to determine what artworks they possess. The goal is to prevent Russian powers from using art to evade sanctions and launder money. The database’s name is “Art and War”, and it holds information on various paintings, sculptures, and other artworks.


Ukraine Platform’s Goals

Russian businessperson Dmitry Rybolovlev
Russian businessperson Dmitry Rybolovlev poses in Paris on September 24, 2015 in front of two allegedly stolen paintings by Pablo Picasso, Espagnole a l’Eventail (left) and Femme se Coiffant. Image courtesy AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik.


Country’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) has the authority over the tool. This asset refers to valuable artworks used by Russian businessmen since 2014 when the Russian-Ukrainian war began. The NACP explained its goal. The agency wants  to “make it easier for virtuous art market participants to carry out sanctions checks” and to “make it difficult for Russian oligarchs”, to launder money through art.


The database includes more than three hundred pieces, with Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev sold the painting at Christie’s for a record-smashing $450.3 million in 2017. There is also Andy Warhol‘s 1961 painting Four Marilyns, currently owned by Vladimir Putin-associate Mikhail Fridman. Also, there are other pieces: Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso’s.


modern artists picasso fishing painting
Night Fishing at Antibes by Pablo Picasso, 1939, via MoMA, New York


Each entry includes basic information about the listed artwork,  such as who created it and when, as well as a calculation of its worth and any connections to authorised parties. The online platform also has an interface that allows people to report other pertinent pieces of art and their owners.

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Which Oligarchs are Sanctioned?

Picasso Retrato de Gertrude Stein 1906 miniatura
Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso, 1905-06, via the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Russian billionaires Petr Aven, Viatcheslav Kantor, Andrey Melnichenko, and Arkady Rotenberg are among the collectors in the Ukrainian database. They are under the sanctions of the European Union, the United Kingdom, or the United States. Why? For giving support to Russia leading war against Ukraine.


Dasha Zhukova, who founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and currently serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is also included in the database. But, she is not under sanctions. Zhukova was formerly married to Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire sanctioned by the U.K., EU, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in 2022 for his relationship to Putin.


Banksy Auction
Banksy street art, Ukraine.


Russian oligarchs, despite the sanctions imposed on them, can still easily hide and launder their money through art objects”, said the NACP. “The ‘War and Art’ section will contribute to the work on preventing the circumvention of sanctions, finding artistic assets of sanctioned Russians with the aim of their further freezing, confiscation and future transfer to Ukraine”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.