Italian Police Seize Modigliani and Picasso Works Belonging to Architect of ‘Putin’s Palace’

Italian authorities seized artworks and other valuable properties from Lanfranco Cirillo, the architect who designed what is dubbed “Putin’s Palace.” The enormous luxury property on the Black Sea allegedly belongs to Putin, though he and Cirillo have both denied that.

The Art Newspaper reported that authorities confiscated $144 million worth of valuable assets such as jewelry and cash, as well as 150 pieces of art, including works by Modigliani and Picasso.

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Cirillo has been accused of various offenses, owing some 50 million euros ($51 million) in taxes. He is also being investigated for money laundering. The seizure of his assets comes on the heels of some purchases that tipped off authorities that Cirillo may have faked his move to Moscow, where he was granted citizenship, in order to evade taxes.

“In particular, the professional is under investigation for not declaring income for tens of millions of euros from 2013 to 2019, while maintaining in Italy the center of his family, emotional and economic-patrimonial interests,” said a statement from the Guardia di Finanza, the arm of Italian law enforcement that deals with financial crimes.

His lawyer, Stefano Lojacono, denies this claim.

“The architect, who is in Moscow, is very disappointed [that] the fact that he bought some prestigious properties and works of art in Italy—and provided for his wife and daughter—are now being used to argue that he faked his move abroad,” said Lojacono in a statement.

The fate of the seized artworks will remain in limbo until Cirillo’s case is concluded.

“According to usual practice, if the court issues a guilty verdict [pending a trial] that is deemed to be conclusive, the works of art will be confiscated by the state and ultimately entrusted to Italian museums,” said Marco Tolla of the Guardia di Finanza in an interview with the Art Newspaper.


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