Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

17.06.2014

Statement of the International Centre of the Roerichs

 Statement of the International Centre of the Roerichs regarding the information from the Russian Ministry of Culture about the collection of paintings owned by Sevetoslav Roerich and his will in connection of the heritage transferred by him to Russia

   9 June, 2014 on the website of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation a statement was distributed – "Information in the petition of the International Centre of the Roerichs is not consistent with reality"; it is full of false information in relation to the collection of paintings owned by Svetoslav Roerich and his will with respect the heritage transferred to Russia to create a public Museum named after Nicholas Roerich. "... ICR – according to the statement of the Ministry of Culture – for many years is trying to reclaim from federal ownership the Roerichs' paintings, which are under the operational control of the State Museum of Oriental Art and are included in the state part of the Museum Collection of the Russian Federation. In support of its position the ICR refers to a testamentary disposition of Svetoslav Roerich in favor of the Soviet Roerichs Foundation (SRF) and the letter that the ICR is the successor of the SRF". Apparently under the title "petition" the Ministry of Culture meant "Open Letter of scientists, artists and public figures to protect the public Museum named after Nicholas Roerich of the International Centre of the Roerichs" posted on the website www.change.org. But it is not a petition of the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR), it is a free manifestation of support for the ICR from those who care about our museum. The ICR sincerely thanks to all who have made their choice in favor of Culture in our difficult times.

Over ten years the Ministry of Culture and the ICR are in litigation. 24 November, 2011 according to the decision of the Hamovnicheskiy court in Moscow the ICR for the second time was recognized as an heir of Svetoslav Roerich on a basis of his will. The court decision came into force. Taking in to account that the Ministry of Culture is trying once again to mislead the country's leadership, the judiciary and the public about the heritage of the Roerichs, the ICR deems it necessary to give some explanation and provide a number of documents confirming our position.

Roerichs' paintings, referred to, were never included in a federal ownership. This collection of paintings belonged to Svetoslav Roerich, a citizen of India, had been transferred to the State only for temporary storage for exhibitions (Act of transfer of paintings No 4193 dated 02.10.1978 and the order of MC of the USSR No 776 dated 13.10.1978). Then this collection in accordance with the order of MC of the USSR No 234 dated 30.05.1989 was transferred to the State Museum of Oriental Art (SMOA), also for temporary storage. Svetoslav Roerich did not presented, sold or bequeathed his collection of paintings to the State. On what basis, then, the Ministry of Culture claims that this collection is a federal ownership? As the documents show, there is no legitimate reason. A few days after the death of Svetoslav Roerich Director of the SMOA V.I. Nabatchikov transferred this collection from temporary to permanent storage according to his Order No 13 dated 25.02.1993. Is it possible to consider these actions as legitimate acquisition of the collection by the state? For sure – not. The Ministry of Culture and Director of the SMOA knew very well that on 19 March, 1990 Svetoslav Roerich signed his last will and testament "Archive and heritage of Roerich for the Soviet Roerichs Foundation at Moscow"  at a notary office in Bangalore (India) on the basis of which a part of his parents' heritage - Nicholas and Helena Roerich, including collection of paintings composed of 288 items - which was in temporary custody in SMOA, he transferred to the SRF to create a public Museum named after Nicholas Roerich in Moscow. Furthermore, management of the SFR and trustee of Svetoslav Roerich in Europe Gisela Ingeborg Fritschi repeatedly appealed to the Ministry of Culture (Letters dated 19.11.9009.04.91; Letter dated 21.05.91 with Appendix ) with the request to fulfill the will of the owner of the collection to convey Roerichs’ paintings from SMOA to SFR. But this was not done. Actions of the Director of the SMOA regarding the transference of the collection from temporary to permanent custody, in accordance with Russian law and international law are illegal and can be defined as the seizure of another's property.

23 years had passed since the date of Svetoslav Roerich’s death. It took this certain amount of time for the Ministry of Culture in order to recognize the last will of Svetoslav Roerich in favour of the Soviet Roerichs Foundation created on Svetoslav Roerich's initiative. And how long would it take for the Ministry to recognize Svetoslav Roerich’s absolute power to dispose of his own heritage?! The quote extracted from the Statement of the Ministry of Culture provides evidence of the letter, according to which the ICR is defined as a legal successor by the SRF. Herewith neither the author nor cause of its writing is specified. In fact the so-called letter is the expression of Svetoslav Roerich’s will, confirmed by a notary on 22 October, 1992 – we’d like to repeat, that Svetoslav Roerich is the owner of both the collection of paintings and all the heritage transferred to Russia. The appearance reason of this “letter” was that Ministry of Culture did not wish to give the collection of paintings to the ICR, as required by S.Roerich. Furthermore the Ministry began to disclaim the ICR as a legal successor of the SRF for the seizure of the heritage. So Svetoslav Roerich had to certify by a notary the ICR rights to the heritage transferred to the SRF. This document shows that Svetoslav N. Roerich actually transferred the SRF rights to dispose of heritage to the ICR within the life and after his death. In this regard he nominated the ICR as a SRF successor. So it doesn’t matter for the procurement of right to dispose of heritage if the ICR is a legal successor of the SRF or not. Svetoslav Roerich made his disposition in this way, after the transformation of SRF into ICR due to the beginning of the USSR break-up he repeatedly recorded in writing the right of the ICR to the heritage donated by him to the USSR. Suffice it to say about the Roerich’s letter to the Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin dated 26 April, 1992. In this letter Svetoslav N. Roerich addressed to the Russian President with an appeal to provide assistance for the return of his own collection of paintings to the ICR, illegally withheld by the State Museum of Oriental Art. Apparently the Ministry of Culture again forgot about these documents as well as the historical and legal note by the Ministry of Culture “About Svetoslav N. Roerich’s collection”. Just two years ago this note was signed by the Minister A.A. Avdeev and contained truthful information of Svetoslav Roerich’s collection and the ICR rights to the Roerichs’ heritage. What happened if the Ministry of culture once again started without any causes to disclaim the ICR as a legal successor of Svetoslav Roerich in a court with the appearance of a new Minister V.V. Medinsky?

The ICR considers that the reason of such a fundamental change of the Ministry of Culture position is striving to hide a disappearance of a substantial part of Svetoslav Roerich collection (from the article by Alexander Stetsenko “Truth about the collection of Svetoslav N. Roerich” in the Catalogue “Museum named after Nicholas Roerich. Painting and drawing” vol.2 М.: ICR, 2010) (translation) and investigative reporting by “Novaya Gazeta” dated 20 July, 2009 “Scary Fairy Tale of the Oriental Museum” . Still the undeniable facts of unauthorized absence of paintings from Svetoslav Roerich’s collection (according to the applications No 4, 5 of the bequest by Svetoslav Roerich (p.1, p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5, p.6, p.7, p.8, p.9, p.10; 288 paintings should be preserved in Russia, according to the State Museum of Oriental Art, only 282 are at place) forced the Ministry of Culture to recognize the lack of 6 paintings in 2012 (historical and legacy note by the Ministry of Culture “About Svetoslav N. Roerich’s collection”.) We must pay tribute to the former Minister of culture A.A. Avdeev who clearly understood that it is no more possible to ignore the last will of our great compatriot concerning the defined owner of the heritage donated to Russia and conceal the disappearance of paintings. It’s time to come to the constructive dialogue and joint actions, aimed at the preservation of the Roerichs heritage in Russia. By his decision it was founded the joint committee of State Museum of Oriental Art and ICR which had to strike out all the disputable points about the Svetoslav Roerich’s collection and take measures to preserve the Roerichs heritage in Russia, basing on the testamentary disposition of Svetoslav Roerich. Unfortunately V.R. Medinsky who replaced A.A. Avdeev after he stepped down as a Minister, stopped all the initiatives in that process and the Ministry again set a course for violation of the last will of Svetoslav Roerich and disclaimed the ICR as its legal successor. This way leads to the loss of the Roerichs heritage in Russia as it happened with its part which remained in the flat of George Roerich in Moscow after his death in 1960. It was entirely devastated in consequence of the absolute negligence of the Ministry of culture concerning its preservation (D.Revyakin. Dying heritage. М.: ICR, 2010). We are calling the present composition of the Ministry of Culture to recognize and execute the last will of Svetoslav Roerich and return to the accomplishment of goals in this regard planned by the Minister of culture A.A.Avdeev. This is a single way to preserve the Roerichs heritage which is so necessary for Russia. 


Back to the list

 

© 2001—2022 International Centre of the Roerichs