Sotheby’s has suspended the sale of Evening in Cairo (1870), a painting by Russian seascape artist Ivan Aivazovsky believed by the Russian Interior Ministry to have been stolen in 1997, in their London auction this week.
Only yesterday, Sotheby’s had stated that the sale of the highly sought-after painting, which had been estimated to sell for ₤1.5-2 million ($2 million–$3 million), would proceed despite allegations from Ministry of Internal Affairs rep Elena Alekseeva that the painting had been stolen from a private Russian collection.
Interpol’s Russian branch had appealed to the British police to prevent the sale from going forward, though Sotheby’s claimed that the painting was not listed in any stolen art databases, including the Russian Culture Ministry’s own database. Sotheby’s website traces the painting back to the collection of N.I. Dedov, who owned the work at the turn of the 20th century. From there, Evening in Cairo was bought by Ivan Nosenko, a member of the Soviet elite. The painting’s ownership was transferred to his wife upon his death in 1956.
The sale was finally suspended at the seller’s request today, June 2.