"Buy Silence" Over Russian Art

The Sunday Telegraph reports that The Royal Academy tried to "buy the silence" of families battling for compensation from the Russian government for priceless works of art stolen from their forebears. 'The Dance' by Matisse is part of the controversial From Russia art exhibition at the Royal Academy. The families, who claim to be the rightful owners of art works in the RA's blockbuster From Russia exhibition, were each offered £5,000 by academy staff on condition that they did not launch their claims while the paintings were on display in London. The disputed art works, which include pieces by Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso, are star attractions in the show, which explores French and Russian art from 1870 to 1925. The offer was made in December, before the Government bowed to Russian pressure and controversially changed the law to protect the works from legal challenges. The RA confirmed last night that it had offered the payments - an admission that one art critic said left him "speechless". André-Marc Delocque-Fourcaud and Pierre Konowaloff claim to be the lawful owners of 25 of the 120 art works in From Russia. Mr Delocque-Fourcaud says that 13 of them, including The Dance by Matisse, Portrait of Dr Felix Rey by Van Gogh and Dryad by Picasso, were confiscated from his grandfather, Sergei Shchukin, by Lenin after the Russian revolution. Mr Konowaloff, the great-grandson of the art collector Ivan Morozov, insists that he is the rightful owner of another 12 paintings, including Jeanne Samary by Renoir and Mont Sainte-Victoire by Cézanne, that were also seized. The Russian authorities threatened to cancel the RA show last year, fearing such claims might prevent the works' return to Russia. The green light was given only on January 9 after the Government had amended the law. (For full source and full article click the Headline). Irish Art