The public eyeballs Georgy Nissky's "Under the Snowy Fields" and "En Route," right, in the Institute of Russian Realist Art, a private museum in Moscow, Thursday, March 16, 2017.
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
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The sale of nine Soviet-era masterpieces that fetched $3 million at a London auction in 2014 is causing uproar in Moscow's art community, where it was widely seen to be a theft of national treasures.There also has been a push to renationalize the collection that once belonged to a Soviet artists' trade union. The dispute has also made it much more difficult to move Russian art across the border for sales or exhibitions.Alexei Ananyev, a Russian billionaire who bought Georgy Nissky's "Over the Snowy Fields" for 1.8 million pounds ($2.2 million), the most expensive item of the ICAU's collection, is baffled why anyone would question the legality of the sale.The auction house said that its Russia sales don't appear to have been affected by the scandal, pointing to a 50-percent increase in Russian art sales in November 2016 compared with a year earlier.Five ministry officials who handled the documents for the ICAU's works have been fired and another reprimanded, the Culture Ministry told the AP.On the ground, the Russian investigation has made it difficult for art collectors and galleries to move art across the Russian border.
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