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Swedish museum faces Russian restitution claim

The Konstmuseum in Malmö allegedly kept works lent to the gallery before the outbreak of the First World War

Russian embassy officials in Stockholm have demanded the return of two paintings by the Astrakhan-born artist Boris Kustodiev (1878-1927), currently in the collection of the Konstmuseum in Malmö. The paintings were part of an exhibition of Russian art which took place immediately before World War I and included works by artists such as Valentin Serov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, and Wassily Kandinsky. In the ensuing chaos of the war and the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the works in the exhibition were stored and then largely forgotten, although some were returned during the Soviet era, including 40 works by Serov which were given to his widow. On its website, the Malmö city council acknowledges the existence of the disputed works, but insists that it purchased them legally decades ago.