The Korea Herald


Statement from Prince Castro Ben Leon Khatib: Bailiffs recover Russian Avantgarde paintings worth hundreds of millions in raids following Frankfurt and Paris court orders


Published : April 2, 2024 - 10:20

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FRANKFURT, Germany, April 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- French bailiffs and police have conducted a raid of an art expert's storage facility in Paris following court orders issued in Frankfurt, Germany, and Paris, France.

The raid led to the discovery of a large number of paintings belonging to a collection of works of Russian Avantgarde stolen from the Khatib family. The Khatib family are avid art collectors and proud owners of many world-class artworks from a variety of periods. Their collection of Russian Avantgarde paintings is one of the largest of its kind and contains works by famous artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich.

The raid, conducted at the end of January, followed similar raids carried out by German officials in Frankfurt in 2023, where authorities also seized a large number of paintings. The works of art seized, worth hundreds of millions of euros, were initially stolen in December 2019.

The seizures are part of a long-running legal case following the theft of 1,800 Russian Avantgarde paintings from Wiesbaden, Germany in 2019. Whilst the seizures in Paris and Frankfurt mean that some of the valuable art pieces have been recovered, many are still missing.

The perpetrators of the theft have been identified, but they remain at large and refuse to return the paintings to their owner. Instead, they are selling the art through auction houses in Paris, Brittany, Monaco and in Israel. The auction houses in question ignored cease-and-desist letters and continued with the sales having been informed that the art was stolen.

The efforts to recover the art collection are financed by Prague-based European litigation funder LitFin. The legal proceedings are led by the global law firm Dentons in Frankfurt and Paris.

A spokesperson for the Khatib family said: "With the help of Dentons and LitFin, we will follow the perpetrators around the world. We will continue to recover our property and encourage anyone who considers buying works from the Russian Avantgarde to diligently check its provenance and make sure it is not a stolen piece belonging to our family".