US to give back to Ukraine painting of Ivan the Terrible stolen during World War II

A 107 year-old painting titled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichnina” by Mikhail Panin will soon be sent back to Ukraine by the US authorities. The painting depicts a 16th century scene of the Russian Tsar Ivan IV, commonly known as Ivan the Terrible, leaving the Kremlin gates with his entourage. 

The painting was taken from the Dnipropetrovsk Art Museum during the Nazi occupation of the city in 1941, and was recently discovered in a private home in the US state of Connecticut. 

According to the US prosecutors dealing with the case, up until 1941 the painting was part of the permanent collection of an art museum in the Ukrainian city now known as Dnipro. This artwork was one of 64 that disappeared from the museum during the Nazi occupation of the city in World War II. The art museum’s website says that Panin’s diploma work was “destroyed by the occupants”. 

In 1962 an American couple came into possession of the painting when they bought a house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where they painting had been left behind. The former owner of the house had emigrated to the US from Switzerland, and according to documents discovered by the new owners, had served in the Swiss army. He died in 1986. 

When the new owners tried to sell the painting, the auction notice caught the attention of the Dnipropetrovsk Art Museum, which subsequently sent the auction house an urgent email: 

“Attention! The painting “Ivan the Terrible” was in the collection of the Art Museum until 1941 and was stolen during World War II. This fact is confirmed by documents in the museum’s possession. Please, stop the auction of this painting!!! According to the international rules on the restitution of stolen artworks, the painting must be returned to Ukraine.” 

The painting was then seized by the FBI. 

The couple that was auctioning the painting have relinquished their claims to it. The US authorities promised that they will return the artwork to the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, unless they receive any other claims to it. 

In May last year, a visitor to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow caused serious damage to the painting “Ivan the Terrible Kills His Son”.

 

  Russia, Ukraine, USA, FBI, Ivan the Terrible

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