- Finland will return seized Russian artwork worth around $46 million, Reuters reported.
- Earlier this month, Finnish authorities seized three shipments being transported to Russia.
- New legislation that will come into effect on April 9 will allow the release of the pieces.
Finland will return a multimillion-dollar collection of artwork to Russia after Finnish customs officers seized three shipments of the artwork, Reuters reported.
Finnish customs officials confirmed the news about the seizure earlier this week.
According to Bloomberg, the pieces were being returned to Russia from museums in Italy and Japan, where they had been temporarily loaned.
The artworks were instead taken into custody by Finnish authorities to determine whether they could be classified as luxury goods. This made them vulnerable to economic sanctions imposed on Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine.
Reuters reported that legislative changes that exclude cultural artworks from being seized under European Union sanctions will come into effect on April 9 when the Finnish foreign ministry will permit customs officials to release the artwork.
Russian culture minister Olga Lyubimova confirmed the pieces would return to Russia over the weekend, per Reuters.
The shipments comprised paintings, statues, and antiques. Bloomberg and Reuters reported that they were worth $46 million but Finnish customs enforcement director Hannu Sinkkonen said they “cannot be valued; they are priceless,” a local China-based media outlet reported.
“Professionals have been consulted in the moving and storage of the goods,” he said. “We are not going to open the packages.”
Per the local outlet, the artworks being returned from Italy originated from collections in some of Russia’s leading art galleries including The Hermitage Museum and Tsarskoye Selo state museum in St. Petersburg.
The other pieces returning from Japan apparently came from Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
Russia has been the target of foreign sanctions since it invaded Ukraine in an unprecedented attack. While the penalties imposed by Western nations have targeted the Russian economy, they’ve also taken aim at Russia’s wealthiest individuals.
From yachts to private jets, many Russian oligarchs have had their luxury assets seized amid the war. One sanctioned Russian oligarch reportedly broke down in tears over their inability to book private jets, while another said he didn’t know how to live after being hit with the sanctions.