How might you define the art world in 2022? In a word, messy. Take that literally, and it could refer to the various liquids splashed across artworks housed in the world’s finest museums during climate protests. Take it more metaphorically, and it could be applied to the scandals that faced multiple big biennials, the fallout faced by art institutions in the wake of conflict, and the rapid decline in the value of various NFTs, which were once a cash cow for many in the art world.
If the past couple years were marked by stasis and uncertainty, partly as a result of the pandemic, 2022 was the first time in a while when it felt as though a lot was happening at once. The Venice Biennale and Documenta, the world’s two biggest art festivals, converged, and brought with them sizable crowds, groundbreaking art, and a good deal of debate. Art fairs, too, roared back, as new ones were launched in capitals across the globe.
All the while, geopolitics shaped the art world, transforming how museums, galleries, and auction houses functioned—and periodically sending them into tumult.
Below, a look back at the defining events of 2022.
Anna Sorokin gets a second look from the art world she scammed
Everyone’s favorite art world grifter, Anna Sorokin, better known as the “heiress” Anna Delvey, had a big year. In February, Netflix’s miniseries about her rise and fall, Inventing Anna, released to considerable buzz and mixed reviews. Art in America’s Emily Watlington said the series was “chock full of delicious lines and scandalous sub-plots,” but that it tries to awkwardly turn Sorokin’s story into a “feminist narrative.” Meanwhile, the real Sorokin spent the early part of the year in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center as she awaited deportation to Germany after overstaying her visa. She didn’t waste the time, creating a series of drawings for an art show. The show, titled “Allegedly,” opened in May to a packed house and Sorokin made a surprise virtual appearance at the opening. By October, Sorokin was released from detention on the condition that she not access social media platforms and remain under house arrest. That didn’t stop the fame-hungry scammer from going on a media tour, however, including with our sister publication Variety. “Everyone’s saying I’m slumming, but I’m still living better than all of you,” she told the magazine. Sure, Anna. —Harrison Jacobs
The Guggenheim Bilbao alters an exhibition amid allegations of plagiarism
In July, the Guggenheim Bilbao found itself embroiled in a controversy which reignited the ongoing debate on the boundary between appropriation and plagiarism in art. At its center was Spanish artist Gala Knörr‘s paintings of a Black cowboy which eagle-eyed social media users said bore striking similarities to a film by Dayday, a Black queer filmmaker from Brooklyn. The paintings were included in an exhibition which followed a joint residency program for Knörr and nine other Basque artists at the Guggenheim in New York and Spain. Critics online said that Knörr’s images were ripped straight from Dayday’s film short film Blue, featuring a young Black cowboy recounting his entry into bull-riding.
After Knorr’s gallery apologized in an Instagram post to Dayday, pressure on the Guggenheim to acknowledge to controversy increased. The museum, working together with the show’s curators Knörr, and Dayday, eventually reached a resolution: Blue would be exhibited with an artist’s statement alongside Knörr’s paintings, “marking the visible source of inspiration for Knörr,” a museum spokesperson told ARTnews. —Tessa Solomon
A Chinese artist faces controversy over an Olympics-themed protest work
The Chinese artist Badiucao received considerable attention at the beginning of the year for his digital art protesting the Chinese government and the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. The five Olympics-related images, initially shown in Miami late last year, were meant to draw attention to the country’s record of human right violations. The Australia-based, self-taught artist, who lives in exile, also turned the Olympic series into a “protest NFT collection” as part of the Art in Protest residency, a collaboration between the Human Rights Foundation in New York and the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco. These images became the subject of controversy when the president of George Washington University, Mark S. Wrighton, took steps to censor a related poster after a student outcry. Wrighton later said attempts to take down Badiucao’s posters were “mistakes.” —Karen K. Ho
A robbery takes place in broad daylight at TEFAF
It’s unexpected for much to happen at a major art fair after the VIP preview days, so when a brazen robbery took place at TEFAF Maastricht in the Netherlands, it shocked the international art world. In a widely circulated video, multiple men appeared to steal several high-priced jewels from an exhibitor, with one smashing a stanchion into a display case, then hurling a vase filled with tulips, the fair’s signature décor, at it. The fair was briefly evacuated afterward. The Politie, the Dutch national police, did not identify which exhibitor had been robbed nor the extent of what was taken. Two Belgian men were briefly arrested as part of the investigation; they were later released and cleared of any involvement. The investigation appears to still be ongoing. —Maximilíano Durón
Kanye West, an art-world favorite, faces controversy over his antisemitic tweets
There was a time when Kanye West easily straddled the art and music worlds. Now, after a series of missteps and self-inflicted wounds, the artist currently known as Ye is anathema to nearly everyone except former President Donald Trump and the 25-year-old political commentator Nick Fuentes, a self-described Hitler fan. In the last few years, Ye has claimed that “slavery was a choice” and denounced the Covid vaccine. Most recently, a string of antisemitic remarks cost him deals with Adidas, Gap, Balenciaga, and Foot Locker, as well as his billionaire status. At his height Ye surrounded himself with art. Takashi Murakami did the cover art for his 2007 album, Graduation. George Condo produced several covers for his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and in 2019 he filmed a performance in front of James Turrell’s Roden Crater. He also hinted that he considered himself on par with Leonardo da Vinci. Will the art world continue to embrace Ye as firmly as they did Kanye West? Who’s to say? —Daniel Cassady
Conservators decry Kim Kardashian's dress choice at the Met Gala
In May, conservators spewed ire in the aftermath of this year’s Met Gala, where Kim Kardashian had donned a historic nude dress made for Marilyn Monroe. Kardashian had secured the rare chance to wear the vintage Jean Louis–designed garment, which had last appeared in public in 1962. It was custom-fitted to Monroe, who debuted it during an event celebrating President John F. Kennedy’s birthday in New York. Museum professionals were quick to condemn Kardashian’s wardrobe choice as unethical, decrying the dress’s private owner, the Los Angeles–based Ripley’s Believe it or Not, for sanctioning the loan of such a fragile garment. “Historic garments should not be worn by anybody, public or private figures,” the International Council of Museums said in a statement. Some critics were even more incensed, arguing that it violated the museum world’s standards around safeguarding archival garments—and the cultural moments they embody—in exchange for the museum’s celebrity-oriented spectacle.
London museums lose large amounts of government funding
In November, the U.K. government sent shockwaves through the arts community when it announced that it would go forward with ex–Culture Minister Nadine Dorries’s plan to reallocate £32 million ($36.8 million) of arts funding out of London and earmark an additional £43.5 million ($50 million) to support arts groups in suburban regions that have been historically underfunded. Among the institutions affected were the Camden Arts Centre, the Crafts Council, the ICA, and the Serpentine galleries, which will lose between £100,000 and £500,000 ($115,000 and $576,000) in funding annually. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said bluntly that the move, in an already dire post-pandemic environment and amid rising costs due to inflation and the war in Ukraine, would be “devastating.” —Harrison Jacobs
Dealer Subhash Kapoor receives 10 years in prison
This year, more than 400 looted artifacts worth millions were returned to India and Pakistan as part of a decade-long investigation into disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor and his associates. Kapoor was well-known among New York dealers for his ability to procure museum-quality items until he was initially arrested on trafficking charges in Germany in 2011. The returned items are a small fraction of the thousands in stolen artifacts described in a criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2019. Earlier this year, Kapoor was sentenced to 10 years in prison by an Indian court. U.S. authorities have called Kapoor “one of the most prolific commodities smugglers in the world.” —Karen K. Ho
Galleries expand to Los Angeles en masse
For decades, Los Angeles has had a strong arts community, bolstered by its top-notch art schools and the massive studio spaces that artists have historically taken up. But there has long been speculation, particularly from those based in New York, that there would never be enough collectors to sustain a market in the city. The arrival of the Frieze art fair there in 2019 seemed to herald a new chapter for L.A., and three years on, the event’s arrival seems to be having a tangible effect on the local art scene. At the beginning of this year, it seemed like each week brought news of another major New York gallery setting up shop in the City of Angels, with David Zwirner, Lisson Gallery, and Sean Kelly among those to take part in the action. And, in a major coup, Pace Gallery announced that it would merge with L.A. stalwart Kayne Griffin. Looking ahead to next year, it’s likely that even more galleries will announce plans to set up shop out west, as Marian Goodman did over the summer. —Maximilíano Durón
Dealer Johann König is accused of sexual misconduct
Until this year, Johann König had been considered one of the foremost figures in the Berlin art scene, with a well-connected family lineage, a massive social circle, and a prominent gallery that also runs a space in Seoul. Things changed in August, when the German publication Die Zeit ran an extensive investigation in which 10 women—some of whom were not named—accused König of sexual misconduct. After the article published, König strongly denied the allegations, issuing an apology in which he attributed any potential bad behavior to his partial blindness.
Although König was successful in getting a Hamburg court to issue an order requiring Die Zeit to alter some of its reporting, the exposé remains live, and it seems to have impacted the gallery. A number of artists have dropped from the roster, among them Monica Bonvicini, whose representation was abruptly ended by König after she announced that she had “paused” her relationship as the allegations continued to be investigated. Meanwhile, the U.S. edition of König’s memoir was put on hold by its distributor. —Alex Greenberger
Black women win big at the Venice Biennale
In a Venice Biennale dominated by female and gender nonconforming artists, it was hardly a surprise that women took home both of the top prizes at this year’s edition. Simone Leigh won the Golden Lion for her participation in Cecilia Alemani’s main show, where she exhibited the 19-foot-tall sculpture Brick House (2019), which had previously been on view at the end of New York’s High Line. Meanwhile, Sonia Boyce won the Golden Lion for national participation, receiving the award for her British Pavilion, which focused on Black female musicians who have shaped England’s musical history.
It was the first time both awards had been won by Black women—a legendary moment, and a possible sign that the canonization of Black female artists was, at long last, underway. In her victory speech, Boyce alluded to the fact that there was still more to be done when she said, “We mustn’t forget that there’s a longer arc that’s more than the people that we see here.” —Alex Greenberger
Unionized Philadelphia Museum workers lead a 19-day strike
For more than two weeks in September, a massive inflatable rat stood outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where some 150 of its unionized employees were on strike. Contract negotiations between the PMA union and museum leadership began in October 2020, but had stalled over key points like job security, healthcare, and wage increases. This August, workers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in August, accusing management of union-busting, and voted overwhelmingly for an indefinite strike. Still reeling from successive controversies around a toxic workplace environment, the museum returned to the table, and a three-year agreement was reached. “The museum caved on every single issue that we were fighting for,” Adam Rizzo, PMA union president, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. —Tessa Solomon
Dealer Inigo Philbrick gets seven years in prison
Rarely do art world scandals wrap up as tidily as they did with disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick. After accusations arose that Philbrick had defrauded investors, dealers, and collectors out of millions of dollars, the then 33-year-old dealer fled to Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t far enough. In 2020, Philbrick was ousted by the Vanuatu authorities at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea and arrested by the FBI in Guam. Philbrick was indicted on wire fraud and identity theft charges that stem from his Ponzi-like scheme that included selling and securing loans with works he did not own, falsifying documents, and selling more than 100 percent of the shares in artworks to multiple buyers. Philbrick ultimately pleaded guilty to wire fraud and, as part of a plea deal, was sentenced in 2022 to seven years in prison. He was also ordered to forfeit a tidy $86 million and two paintings. When asked by Judge Sidney H. Stein, of New York’s Southern District Court, why he committed his crimes, Philbrick replied, “Vanity and greed…. I tried to lead a life that wasn’t true.” —Daniel Cassady
Iraqi artists quit the Berlin Biennale in protest
Jean-Jacques Lebel’s Poison Soluble (2013), a labyrinth-like installation filled with blown-up images of acts of torture committed by U.S. soldiers against prisoners in Abu Ghraib, had been exhibited before this year, largely without fanfare. Yet when it appeared in the Berlin Biennale in 2022, it provoked an outcry from three Iraqi participants who claimed the Lebel work was exploitative, and denounced the placement of their own artworks near Lebel’s piece. Those artists—Raed Mutar, Layth Kareem, and Sajjad Abbas—signed an open letter in Artforum written by curator Rijin Sahakian, who said that the piece was guilty of “instrumentalization of our work and identities as Iraqi.”
Controversies over provocative pieces are common at international biennials, and they sometimes end in the offending works being taken away. But something entirely different happened at the Berlin Biennale, whose curatorial team, led by the artist Kader Attia, defended the Lebel piece in a separate Artforum essay responding to Sahakian’s. The show, they said, was intended to deal with the legacies of colonialism, which meant staring down the pain associated with them. Abbas, Kareem, and Mutar were unconvinced. They promptly pulled out of the show, demonstrating the limits of the exhibition’s decolonial scope. —Alex Greenberger
A former Louvre director is charged in a sprawling antiquities trafficking investigation
The trafficking of antiquities has long been a concern within the art world, and increasingly those involved in the looting, selling, or buying of these pilfered objects have been brought to justice. Even with news about this making headlines regularly, it was still major when Jean-Luc Martinez, a former director of the Louvre, was charged with “complicity of gang fraud and laundering” in the purchase of allegedly looted antiquities for the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection. After his indictment, it was reported that a French Egyptologist had warned of the works’ troubling provenance, and that his advice had gone unheeded. In the wake of these shocking revelations, the Louvre announced that it had petitioned to join the criminal investigation as a civil party, which could potentially allow the museum to receive monetary damages. The case took another turn in November when a prosecutor asked for charges against Martinez to be dropped, citing a lack of evidence. A French court will issue its decision on the matter in February. —Maximilíano Durón
Mahsa Amini's death spurs artists to action in Iran and beyond
In September, the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini died in a Tehran hospital after being detained and beaten by police, allegedly for not wearing her hijab properly in accordance with Iran’s national dress standards for women. Her death sparked a women’s rights protest movement in Iran, which has seen hundreds of fatalities since it began in September. The action spread to the international art world when a group of anonymous artists staged a protest at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, where they unfurled 12 red banners with text reading “Women, Life, Freedom.” Iranian artist Shirin Neshat publicized a video of the Guggenheim demonstrators, describing them as “the conscience of the sleepy art world who cares little for Iranian women fighting for basic human rights and freedom.” Others artists, including Aphrodite Désirée Navab, Icy and Sot, Sepideh Mehraban, and Sheida Soleimani, have also spoken out, seeking to raise international awareness for the movement. —Francesca Aton
Women and artists of color rise at auction
In the past, white male artists have long dominated at public sales by auction houses. But an effort to capitalize on shifting times was felt at the year’s biggest auctions as records fell for women and artists of color. Partly, the momentum had been spurred by museums, which, during the pandemic, pledged to address gaps in their holdings, but it was clear that the hunger was felt by collectors, too. At contemporary art sales held by Christie’s Sotheby’s and Phillips, new benchmarks were notched for artists emerging and midcareer darlings like Anna Weyant, Lucy Bull, and María Berrío, as well as ones whose reputations are established within institutions, like Simone Leigh, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Rashid Johnson, and the late Matthew Wong. Meanwhile, canonical and under-recognized names, among them Agnes Martin, Barbara Kruger, and Barbara Hepworth, grew in prominence in the salesroom. Arguably, the year’s biggest auction surprise came via Ernie Barnes, whose 1976 painting sold for $15.3 million at Christie’s. It had been given a conservative high estimate of just $200,000. —Angelica Villa
A Warhol-related lawsuit makes it to the Supreme Court
In October, a U.S. Supreme Court case made headlines for its potential to redraw, for better or for worse, the limits of fair use. The case pits the Andy Warhol Foundation against the celebrated portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith, whose image of the musician Prince, taken on commission by Newsweek in 1981, Warhol appropriated for a series of paintings. The legal proceedings have been gestating since 2016, but the case only grew in scale this year when it hit the U.S.’s biggest court in October, becoming one of the rare art-related ones to make it there.
High-profile artists got involved. If the Supreme Court rules against the Warhol Foundation, artists such as Barbara Kruger have argued, it would create a dangerous principle that could be applied to suppress the freedom of expression. Goldsmith’s legal team has countered that a favorable ruling would help protect aspiring artists from being exploited by more culturally influential creators. A decision hasn’t been made yet—the outcome will hinge on whether Goldsmith’s image of Prince had been adequately transformed by the Pop artist—but whichever way the Court goes, it will likely have far-reaching impact. —Tessa Solomon
The FBI raids a Basquiat show in Florida
This June, in the cold light of visiting hours, the FBI raided the Orlando Museum of Art and seized the contents of the exhibition “Heroes & Monsters: Jean-Michel Basquiat.” Twenty-five paintings in the show attributed to the artist had been mysteriously uncovered in a storage unit. The museum’s director, Aaron De Groft, had perpetuated by the story in the months before the raid, only for it to debunked by evidence collected over the course of several years by the FBI’s Art Crime Team.
De Groft was ousted amid the revelation that he had threatened a Basquiat expert into compliance, and the museum’s board chair was soon gone too. The scandal shook the trust of the Orlando community in its central art institution and raised larger questions about how Basquiat’s work is shown. Basquiat’s official authentication committee was dissolved after facing litigation; the Warhol Foundation’s authentication board suffered a similar fate. If no one is around to authenticate Basquiat’s works, what’s to stop the events of Orlando from repeating elsewhere? —Tessa Solomon
A Christie's sale of Paul Allen's collection stuns
The sale of Paul G. Allen’s collection at Christie’s, comprised of more than 150 works from the late Microsoft co-founder’s trove, stands out from all auctions before and after. In the process, the sale smashed 20 artist’s auction records, including ones for Gustav Klimt to Andrew Wyeth, and saw five works sell for over $100 million—a rarity in a single sale. Among the star lots were a museum-worthy rendering of Mont Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cézanne, which sold for $137 million with fees, and Vincent van Gogh’s impossibly smooth Verger avec cyprés, which brought in just over $117 million with fees. In total, the sale brought in a staggering $1.5 billion, making it the most expensive art auction of all time. —Daniel Cassady
A crypto winter sets in
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! On the eve of 2021, NFT traders were flying high: the past year had been a thrilling ride as the value of crypto jumped, trading volume peaked at tens of millions of dollars every day, and relationships with legitimizing forces within the art world were forged. But come February, signs of a crypto winter set in. A major evening sale at Sotheby’s failed when the seller pulled his lot of 104 Crypto Punks. Two months later, an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first ever tweet, which had once been bought for $2.9 million, failed to receive a bid higher than $280.
What at first appeared to be a slump quickly became a crypto winter. Devin Finzer, the CEO of the prominent NFT platform OpenSea, laid off 20 percent of his employees, dealing a big blow to the community. Although NFT enthusiasts had made attempts to shrug off the slow moment as a good time to innovate, now they were forced to admit things were truly bad.
Talk of a crash has quieted down, as collectors, institutional partners, and key players in the NFT scene have continued to push for new collaborations. Recent months have brought Hilma af Klint NFTs via the musician Pharrell Williams and a new blockchain startup from Art Basel. We haven’t seen the last of NFTs yet. —Shanti Escalante-De Mattei
Art Basel ousts FIAC from Grand Palais to launch a new Paris fair
With its soaring Beaux-Arts glass-and-steel ceilings, the Grand Palais in Paris offers an unparalleled experience for those attending art fairs, which are typically relegated to anonymous convention centers. For nearly 50 years, FIAC was the fair that had been given the honor of showing there. But Art Basel sent shockwaves around the international art world when it announced that it was bidding for FIAC’s traditional October dates at the Grand Palais. Art Basel’s coup was successful, and the new fair, titled Paris+, par Art Basel, launched in October at the Grand Palais Éphémère, while FIAC appears to have gone quietly into the night. With some nine months of planning, Paris+ kicked off with dealers reporting strong sales, though the ambitious merger of art, fashion, film, and more promised by the “plus” in its name never totally panned out. Still, Paris+ has secured the Grand Palais for seven years, so more could be in the offing. —Maximilíano Durón
Documenta faces a mass outcry over allegations of antisemitism
Scrutiny over this year’s edition of Documenta, the esteemed art festival held once every five years in Kassel, Germany, began well before the show even opened in June. At the beginning of the year, German antisemitism groups voiced concern over the inclusion of a Palestinian collective, the Question of Funding, which they viewed as an endorsement of the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. Ruangrupa, the Indonesian collective that curated Documenta 15, defended the Question of Funding, and even accused its detractors of racism. That could have been the end of the controversy, but it was not.
Upon the show’s opening, a gigantic mural by Taring Padi was revealed to include antisemitic caricatures, spawning a fierce and bitter debate that extended far beyond the art world. The mural was awkwardly covered in black fabric, then quickly removed; Taring Padi apologized; and the show went on, even as German politicians cast a wary eye toward Documenta and ruangrupa.
Even after the Taring Padi mural was taken down, its ghost continued to haunt Documenta 15, which was mired in scandal right up until the very end. Hito Steyerl, one of the few internationally recognized participants in an edition dominated by collectives from the Global South, quit the show, and there were calls for a league of experts who would scour the sprawling exhibition for any other instances of antisemitism. (One was ultimately formed, and did find what it said was an “anti-Zionist” bias in some programming.) Documenta’s managing director, Sabine Schormann, left her post, as did Meron Mendel, the head of the Anne Frank Educational Institute in Frankfurt, who had served as an adviser. As high-ranking German figures continued to pillory the show, ruangrupa was even called before the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, to explain what had ensued.
Documenta 15 closed mostly unscathed in September, with few other alterations and a whopping 738,000 ticket sales. Yet, as German politicians call for federal funding to be downscaled for future editions in light of this year’s ado, it’s become increasingly obvious that Documenta may never be the same again. —Alex Greenberger
Climate activists target famous artworks
Climate change became a loud, unignorable topic in the art industry this year after activists and protestors targeted famous artworks at major museums around the world. It started with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre being smeared with cake in May. Other notable examples included mashed potatoes thrown at a Claude Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, and tomato soup splashed on a van Gogh painting at the National Gallery in London. At least one climate protestor explained the works were chosen based on their prominence (and use of protective glass) to highlight the need for governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuel developments. While the Getty family is famous for its oil riches and art collection, the heir Aileen Getty has also donated at least $1 million to help fund many of the climate protests taking place at museums. —Karen K. Ho
The effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine ripple out through the art world
It didn’t take long after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February for reports of a targeted campaign of cultural destruction to emerge. In March, UNESCO expressed concern that Russian forces were “directing unlawful attacks” against heritage sites in Ukraine, violating an international code of conduct signed by both countries following World War II. Among the hardest hit was the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol, whose Kuindzhi Art Museum, devoted to the life and work of beloved local realist painter Arkhip Kuindzhi, was reportedly destroyed by Russian forces.
Against enormous odds, the Ukrainian art scene persevered. Curator Maria Lanko drove the contents of the Ukrainian Pavilion, by the artist Pavlo Makov, out of her home country, with his fountain sculpture’s 78 bronze funnels stowed in her backseat, and an emergency Ukrainian art show was erected near the main exhibition. A similar act of covert smuggling was undertaken to get masterworks from Kyiv’s National Art Museum of Ukraine to Spain’s Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, where the show “In The Eye Of The Hurricane. Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930s” is now on view. And international museums cast an eye toward history by upholding Ukrainian artists of years past, as institutions like New York’s Museum of Modern Art set up dedicated galleries to them.
Meanwhile, in Russia, the art scene ground to a halt as international artists pulled exhibitions and high-ranking museum officials quit. Russian oligarchs, who had previously reigned supreme in the international art market, were sanctioned by foreign countries, forcing these magnates to dramatically scale back business with places like the major auction houses where they once bought masterpieces. Some oligarchs even resigned from the boards of the world’s top museums, in a sign that their power had been dramatically curtailed. More proof arrived at the Venice Biennale, where oligarchs’ yachts, which are typically docked in the canal, were nowhere to be found. Further underlining the point was the scene at the Russian Pavilion, which remained shuttered for the show’s full run. Its only attendees were a few guards who stood watch during the opening.
As violence from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated, scrutiny of businesses and wealth advisers with ties to politically connected Russian magnates heightened. U.S., U.K., and European sanctions put a grip on Russian banks, freezing the assets of ultra-wealthy oligarchs considered by Western governments to be enablers of Putin’s regime. Eyed on the international stage were business figures like Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Fridman, Alisher Usmanov, and members of the Rotenberg family, all of whom preside over wealth they amassed in resource and infrastructure industries after the fall of the Soviet Union. The pressure led to seizures and financial losses. Abramovich relinquished ownership of the $5.3 million English soccer team Chelsea F.C., and a $5 million art collection stored on Usmanov’s yacht was impounded by German authorities. —Angelica Villa and Tessa Solomon