Russian millionaires stash priceless art in secretive £76bn ‘Ali Baba’s cave’ – World News

An insider has claimed that different gallery owners say that there had been a huge surge in sales to Russian buyers even three weeks prior to the Ukrainian invasion

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin – his power base of oligarchs have been crippled by sanctions

Russian millionaires have been rushing to buy priceless art as gallery owners notice a ‘huge surge’ since the start of the war with Ukraine.

A gallery owner who participated in the Art Genève art fair in early March this year said a lot of the guided tours were done in Russian.

And an industry insider told The Art Newspaper about the rush by wealthy Russians to invest in art.

The insider claimed: “All of my meetings with Russian investors were cancelled last week following the start of the war.

“But I spoke to three different gallery owners, and they all confirmed that three weeks prior to the Ukrainian invasion there had been a huge surge in sales to Russian buyers.

“My guess is that they were told about the war beforehand.”

The pressure on Russian owned assets around Europe has ramped up since the conflict began.

Around $150bn of Russian money is believed to be held in Switzerland, according to reports.

The Art Newspaper said no-one knows what is inside the Geneva Freeport in terms of oligarch-owned works of art.

The ‘secretive’ Freeport is described as ‘Ali Baba’s cave’ and the value of goods in the warehouses is said to be around $100bn.

The Geneva Freeport has been compared to Ali Baba’s cave


MHM55/Wikimedia Commons)

This comes as Wealthy Russian socialites fleeing the war to shop in Dubai are outraged that Chanel has refused to sell them their favourite accessories.

With sanctions being imposed on Moscow, the luxury brand pulled out of Russia in protest at Vladimir Putin ’s invasion of Ukraine.

As Ukrainians and Russians are dying in their thousands in the war, affluent socialites are disgruntled about being barred from their favourite label.

Destroyed houses are seen in Borodyanka, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine



Russian interior designer and influencer Liza Litvin took to social media to describe how she was refused a Chanel bag in a top Dubai mall.

“I went to a Chanel boutique in the Mall of the Emirates,” she posted in fury.

“They didn’t sell me the bag because (attention!) I am from Russia!!!””

Moscow foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Chanel of joining “the Russophobic campaign to ‘cancel Russia’”.

Ukrainian soldiers walking through the destroyed city of Bucha


Vladyslav Musienko/UPI/REX/Shutterstock)

Chanel’s French HQ confirmed the new policy, and said it was forced to apply this because of EU and Swiss sanctions on luxury items.

“The latest sanctions restrictions of the European Union and Switzerland prohibit ‘the sale, directly or indirectly, of luxury items to any natural, legal person or entity in the Russian Federation or for use in the Russian Federation,” the company said in a statement.

Customers were asked ”to confirm that the products they purchase will not be used in Russia”.

Chanel said: “We understand that these measures, aimed at complying with the requirements of the law, may create certain inconveniences for some customers.

“We are currently working to improve the procedure and apologise for any related misunderstandings and inconveniences.

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