Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russia’s Culture Minister, addressed the media today over a Russian-German Rubens controversy. He thinks the involved parties ought to meet each other halfway. At any rate, the issue gives no grounds whatever for a criminal case.

Painted presumably between 1609 and 1612, “Tarquin and Lucrece”, one of Rubens’ best works, was removed from the Potsdam museum in Germany as Russian trophy in 1945 and was missing up to this year, when it came up in a private collection in Russia. The owner says he bought it from the daughter of a Soviet military officer who took the canvas from Germany.

The Rubens is now in Russia, and has been legally purchased, while its Potsdam provenance is certain. All that give sufficient grounds for a legal controversy, acknowledges the minister. He rules out prospects for criminal proceedings, and sees the only disputable matter in who will buy the treasure out – the state or a private person. The present owner acquired the masterpiece in an aboveboard deal, and so is entitled to compensation. Mr. Shvydkoi is firm on that point.

Germany, on the other hand, regards the canvas as a displaced cultural value, and insists on its unconditional return.

Published in: on December 2, 2003 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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