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Major auction houses cancel Russian art sales in London

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By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) – Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams auction houses canceled sales of Russian art in London in June, as part of the art market’s response to Western sanctions on Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine. .

Auction houses held Russian art sales in June and November, in a period known as “Russian Art Week,” which attracts wealthy Russian buyers.

Sotheby’s said it suspended its sale of Russian art in London in June. “We are absolutely rigorous in following the current sanctions, and we are closely monitoring any updates to the lists,” excluded in a statement.

Christie’s also announced the cancellation of its June Russian art sale, citing factors such as the uncertainty of war and complex logistical and legal requirements related to sanctions.

“Although Christie’s current sales market in Russia as a whole is relatively small, we have a responsibility to respond to the needs of our customers and to geopolitical events beyond our control,” Christie’s said in a statement.

The auction house added that it is conducting “enhanced due diligence” on politically exposed persons and those with a connection to sanctioned jurisdictions.

Bonhams did not explain the reasons for his decision.

Western countries have taken unprecedented steps to cut ties with Russia, including freezing bank accounts and imposing sanctions on Russian billionaires following Russia’s Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation.”

Some dealers and advisers told Reuters the international art market as a whole is unlikely to be affected as the number of Russian buyers has fallen since the 2008 financial crisis and represents a small part of the market.

Sales of Russian artworks amounted to 37.7 million pounds ($49.6 million) at Sotheby’s and Christie’s salons in London in 2021, less than 1% of turnover, according to Sebastian Duthy, managing director of ArtMarketResearch. Sotheby’s and Christie’s did not immediately confirm the figure.

(1 dollar = 0.7641 pounds)

(Edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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