The UK government widened its ban on exports to Russia to include high-end luxury goods last week as part of efforts to isolate the Russian economy from global trade.
Paintings, works of art, antiques, jewellery, watches and cars are among the 22 luxury goods categories included in the fourth round of sanctions agreed by the G7 countries and the EU. The ban on exports covers items with a value exceeding €300 (but €1500 for musical instruments and €50,000 for cars).
London’s ‘Russian Art Week’ has become an annual event in the summer with last year’s series raising around £27m including premium. The pre-pandemic series in June 2019 totalled £35.8m.
Sotheby’s confirmed to ATG that it would not be holding any Russian art auctions in London in June adding that: “We have stopped the import and export of property to and from Russia for the time being.”
Christie’s announced shortly afterwards that it was also cancelling its Russian sale in June, while Bonhams also confirmed it was following suit.
A spokesperson for Christie’s said: “It takes many months to prepare an auction properly. This factor of time in an unfolding war with so much uncertainty is a challenge we face, along with our need to address complex logistical and legal requirements that continue to evolve. It would not be prudent to proceed in this environment.” Russian art specialists MacDougall has yet to comment on its sales schedule.
Russian-owned Phillips donated £5.8m from its recent Contemporary art sale to the Ukrainian Red Cross. However, some figures in the art world, including former chief executive of Bonhams Matthew Girling, have called for a boycott against the firm.
A Phillips spokesperson said: “The owners of Phillips are not the subject of sanctions and have no connections to any individuals or institutions that may be included directly or indirectly in any sanctions list.”
A number of UK regional firms are no longer taking bids from buyers in Russia.
Transactions between Russia and the West have become increasingly difficult since Russia was cut from the Swift banking mechanism and Mastercard and Visa both suspended operations in the country.