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Resource ID: #14416
Subject: Art
Source: ARTnews
Date: March



This recounts one of the last great art stories of the Cold War. At its core is art the Soviets had outlawed and denounced for half a century but whose value they had belatedly come to recognize. In the fall of 1986 a treasure trove of Russian art and documents was taken from a house in Paris to the Soviet Embassy. The owner, Alexandra Tomilina, was close to death in a Swiss hospital. A few months earlier, she had traded them to the Soviet government in exchange for a small monthly pension. For a few francs, the Soviets had acquired artworks and documents worth millions. However, French inheritance tax is very high, and the Soviet government would owe about 60 percent of the total value in taxes. And French cultural- property export regulations are strict. The treasures were smuggled back to Russia to avoid paying the taxes. They are inaccessible to everyone, in storage in the basement of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Until the Russians and the French negotiate the issues of tax evasion and smuggling of cultural property, that's where they will remain.

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