Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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Ministry of Culture of the
Russian Federation


About Svetoslav N. Roerich’s collection”
(Historical and legal note)


In 1989 the “Soviet Roerichs Foundation” was established upon the initiative of Svetoslav Roerich (Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the USSR dated November 4, 1989 №950.)

On March 19, 1990 Svetoslav Roerich executed a notarized will “Archives and Heritage of Roerich for the Soviet Roerichs Foundation at Moscow” which conveys the whole heritage to the lawful heir represented by the Soviet Roerichs Foundation after the death of the artist. Point 3 of the document defines a special reference about the delivery to the Foundation of 288 paintings in number being in the custody of the Ministry of Culture.

In September, 1991 upon the breakup of the USSR the Soviet Roerichs Foundation was reorganized into the international non-governmental organization “The International Centre of the Roerichs” (ICR).

On October 22, 1992 Svetoslav Roerich drew up a codicil confirming the ICR initiated by Svetoslav Roerich to be a legal successor of the Soviet Roerichs Foundation.

Svetoslav Roerich died on 30th of January, 1993. Other regulatory documents (wills) concerning the Roerichs’ heritage are unascertained.

On June 25, 1993 the telegram was received in the name of Boris N. Yeltsin with an appeal to create the “State Roerich Museum.” It was sent by Svetoslav Roerich’s wife Mrs. Devika Rani Roerich. She wasn’t the disposer according to Svetoslav Roerich’s will. The telegram wasn’t certified by a notary neither by Indian authorities nor Russian consular institutions.

Nevertheless by the letter dated August 3, 1993 the Minister of Culture E.Sidorov informs Mrs. Devika Rani Roerich that the Ministry of Culture was drafting documents for establishment of State Museum named after Nicholas Roerich.

On November 4, 1993 at the instance of the Ministry of Culture the regulation of Government of the Russian Federation № 1121 “About the creation of Nicholas Roerich State Museum” (further – regulation № 1121) as a branch of State Museum of Oriental Art was adopted.

The regulation № 1121 determined to allocate Nicholas Roerich State Museum within the architectural monument “The Lopoukhins’ Estate” at Starovagankovsky line, 3/5 (at present time – Maly Znamensky line) where the “International Centre of the Roerichs” is situated.

The regulation № 1121 dissembles the paintings from the Roerichs heritage.

By the regulation of Government of the Russian Federation dated December 17, 2010 № 1045 the regulation № 1121 being unexecuted and not corresponding to the norms of applicable law was declared to be no longer in force.

Under the authority of norms of Federal law № 73-F3 for delimitation of government property for cultural heritage sites the architectural monument “The Lopoukhins’ Estate” was referred to Moscow property.



***


Fate of the paintings


The collection mentioned in Svetoslav Roerich’s will (288 paintings) was imported to USSR in 1978. It was transferred for temporary custody in E.V.Vutechich All-Union Artistic Production Association for holding of exhibitions countrywide.

From the late 1970s paintings were repeatedly delivered from E.V.Vutechich All-Union Artistic Production Association to the State Museum of Oriental Art. At the end of 1985 282 paintings were found in the temporary custody in the State Museum of Oriental Art. The location of 6 paintings is still not regulated.

In 1989 the order by the Ministry of Culture of USSR dated May 30, 1989 № 234 (Deputy Minister of Culture V.I.Kazenin) which confirms the delivery of paintings to the temporary custody (in number of 282 items) from E.V.Vutechich All-Union Artistic Production Association to the State Museum of Oriental Art was issued, and guarantees to evaluate the possibility of further exhibition display in the USSR cities.

On February 1993 (20 days after the death of Svetoslav Roerich), contrary to the artist’s Will, the Fund Commission of the State Museum of Oriental Art issued a Protocol stating that the collection (282 items) should be taken into permanent museum stock.

Director General of the State Museum of Oriental Art V.A.Nabatchikov, by his order № 13 dated February 25, 1993, approved the Commission’s decision on taking the paintings into permanent museum stock. The Will of Svetoslav Roerich was ignored. The request of the International Centre of the Roerichs regarding transfer of the paintings into its property according to the Will was rejected.

By the Order № 633 dated September 13, 1999, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation (the Minister V.K.Egorov) confirmed relevancy of the State Museum of Oriental Art including the Roerich’s collection into the Governmental Part of the Museum Fund (inventory items №№ from 43923kp to 44204kp).

Such a legal practice of including museum items and collections into the Governmental Part of a Museum Fund is not in compliance with the legislation acting at the moment of including, as well as with the current legislation.

The legislation (Federal Law № 54-FZ dated 26.05.1996) and regulation of the Russian Federation Government № 179 dated 12.02.1998 (Regulation of Museum Fund, Regulation of State Catalogue) stipulates the following basis for including museum articles and collections into the property of the Russian Federation: documentary proven fact of their acquisition by the State.

There are no documents proving the fact that the paintings under consideration were acquired by the Russian Federation or by the Museum (purchase contracts, deed of gift, etc., which would accord articles №№ 8 and 218 of the Civil Code).

The fact that the paintings were transferred by Svetoslav Roerich for temporary custody and for exhibiting was not and is not the cause for including them into the property of the Russian Federation and further into the Governmental Part of the Museum Fund. Orders of the State Museum of Oriental Art and the Ministry of Culture can not be interpreted as actions aimed at the acquisition of the ownership by the Government.

The Svetoslav Roerich’s collection also can’t be considered as heirless property. Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the USSR № 683 dated June 29, 1984 and Direction of the Ministry of Finance № 185 dated December 19, 1984 states that actions on stock-taking, guarding, evaluating, and selling of confiscated, ownerless property, as well as property acquired by the Government by right of succession, and also treasures, should be taken by tax authorities and should be proved by an appropriate notary certificate issued to a tax entity not earlier than 6 months after the date when the heritage was discovered.

The legal opinion of the Khamovnichesky Court from November 24, 2011 (legal case 2-3191/11) about ascertaining of the fact of acceptance of heritage confirmed that the ownership of the ICR for the paintings arose and is valid now on the basis of the Svetoslav Roerich’s Will as specified by the Law.

At present, according to the legal opinion of the Khamovnichesky Court, the International Centre of the Roerichs started a procedure of notary legalization of the ownership for “Archives and Heritage of Roerich” confirmed by Court.

Estimated time of completing the procedure is from 6 months to one year. Further, the question will arise about regulating of relationships between the ICR and the State Museum of Oriental Art, which holds 282 paintings of the Roerich’s collection.

During meetings between Director of State Museum of Oriental Art A.V.Sedov and plenipotentiary Vice-President of the ICR A.V.Stetsenko that were held in the Ministry of Culture, it was agreed that after notarial procedures are competed, an agreement on partnership between the ICR and the State Museum of Oriental Art will be concluded. This document will regulate the principles of museum cooperation in the field of custody, mutual use, and exhibiting of the paintings by the Roerichs.

On April 7, 2012, “The International Centre of the Roerichs” made an official declaration (see attachment) that the Roerich’s collection which owner is represented by the ICR will remain in the Museum Fund of the Russian Federation.


[Signature]
09.04.2012
The Ministry of Culture of
the Russian Federation