Ivan the Terrible returns to Ukraine

19th-century oil painting, stolen during the Second World War, was found in the US

Panin’s 1911 painting of Ivan the Terrible was stolen by the Nazis US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

A 1911 oil painting of Ivan the Terrible on horseback fleeing the Kremlin, that was stolen from Nazi-occupied Ukraine during the Second World War and turned up in the US, is on its way back home.

For decades, the work hung in a house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, purchased by David and Gabby Tracy in 1987. The previous owner told them that the painting was there when the residence was bought from a Swiss man in 1962. Last year, the couple decided to sell the painting, Mikhail N. Panin’s Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichnina, and sent it to the Potomack Company, an auction house in Alexandria, Virginia. The company valued it at $5,000, but it never went under the hammer.

“Our researchers discovered the painting had been exhibited in a museum in Ukraine at one time and was assumed to have been destroyed,” says the company’s owner and chief executive, Elizabeth Wainstein. “But we contacted the Dnipropetrovsk Art Museum and learned it had actually been stolen by the Nazis.”

Wainstein called the FBI, which is now working to return the painting to the museum with the help of the Tracys, who say they are glad it is returning home. For now the work remains in the US.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 309 February 2019