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Sun Aug 2, 2020, 07:11 PM

Artful dodgers: US Senate finds billionaire Putin pals evaded sanctions through art deals

Billionaire brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg bought millions of dollars in art, even while U.S. institutions were banned from doing business with them.

By Will Fitzgibbon and Hamish Boland-Rudder
July 30, 2020

Russian oligarchs have bought and sold multimillion dollar works of art while evading U.S. sanctions, according to a U.S. Senate report that urges reform of the secretive, high-end art market.

The bipartisan report reveals how Russian billionaire brothers, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, moved millions of dollars around the world through offshore companies, even while U.S. institutions were banned from doing business with them.

The report, which draws heavily on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Panama Papers investigation, was released on Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Companies linked to the Rotenbergs bought more than $18 million in art in the U.S. between May and November 2014, just months after Boris and Arkady, a former judo sparring partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The purchases – hidden behind an intermediary – were possible because the U.S. art industry is not subject to financial regulation, according to the Senate report.


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