Russian Supreme Court to review Briullov painting smuggling case
MOSCOW, May 25 (RAPSI, Lyudmila Klenko) – The Presidium of Russia’s Supreme Court will review the case of collector Alexander Pevzner, formerly charged with smuggling the painting by prominent artist Karl Briullov entitled ‘Christ in the Sepulcher', the court’s website reads on Thursday.
In March, the Constitutional Court ruled that the painting seized from Pevzner may be returned to him only after he is acquitted. The court ruled to review all rulings in the case and to offer a choice to the collector: either he agrees to cancellation of criminal case and loses rights to the painting or keeps the case ongoing, looking forward to the sentence, whatever it may be.
In 2003, Pevzner brought the painting he owned into Russia via the customs station in Vyborg in the Leningrad Region. Even though it was a cultural property, Pevzner did not declare the masterpiece, according to investigators. The collector was charged with smuggling.
In November 2013, the Vyborg City Court in the Leningrad Region dropped charges against the German citizen as the statute of limitations had expired. However, the court ruled to confiscate the painting from Pevzner and ordered its transfer to the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.
In 2014, the Leningrad Regional Court overturned the lower court’s ruling in part and returned the piece of art to its owner. In 2015, the decision was upheld.
In April 2016, the Supreme Court of Russia reversed the Leningrad Regional Court’s ruling and ordered the forfeiture of the painting under the Article 81 of the Criminal Procedure Code which envisages that crime instruments belonging to the accused must be confiscated, transferred to the relevant institutions or destroyed.
Pevzner in his complaint filed with the Constitutional Court challenged the Criminal Procedure Code’s provisions allowing to forfeit objects of art if they are declared material evidence.