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Russian art collector could face seven years in prison

Vladimir Nekrasov has been charged with corporate tax evasion

St Petersburg

One of Russia’s most prominent art collectors, cosmetics magnate Vladimir Nekrasov, was arrested in Moscow on 25 January and charged with corporate tax evasion. If found guilty, he could face up to seven years in prison.

Nearly 50 police officers arrested Nekrasov along with Sergei Schneider (formerly known as Semyon Mogilevich) who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for securities fraud and racketeering.

Nekrasov, 47, owns one of Russia’s largest private art collections. According to the website of Arbat Prestige, his cosmetics chain, this consists of around 7,000 paintings.

These include some of the finest Russian works in private hands, including works by Kazimir Malevich (Flower Vendor, 1904), Marc Chagall (Pink Lovers, 1916, and Nude with Bouquet of Lilies, 1927), Pavel Filonov, Robert Falk and Mikhail Larionov.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper in 2006, Alexander Korobchenko, director of the Arbat Prestige Museum which displays a selection of Mr Nekrasov’s collection in his Moscow cosmetics emporium, said: “While rich Russians were spending money on cars and mansions in the 1990s, Mr Nekrasov was squirreling away all his spare money into fine art. He sincerely loves it.’’

Nekrasov also has a passion for Russian post-war and contemporary art. According to one Moscow art dealer, he was planning to sell a large portion of his collection in order to fund his purchase of contemporary art.