Va. Art Gallery, Asked To Sell Couple’s Artworks, Discovers Painting Stolen By Nazis

The “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina” is a 1911 painting by the Ukrainian artist Mikhail Panin. It was stolen by the Nazis in World War II. (Courtesy the Potomack Company)

The FBI Washington Field Office’s Art Crime Team returned a massive Ukrainian painting stolen by the Nazis during World War II to the Embassy of the Ukraine. Today, representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy, the Potomack Auction Company, and members of the Tracy family, and the United States Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, FBI International Operations Division and FBI Legal Attaché Kyiv, joined the FBI Washington Field Office for the repatriation of the stolen painting in a ceremony at the Potomack Auction Company.

The painting, titled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina,” by Mikhail N. Panin, was stolen from the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum in Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1941. The FBI was contacted when the painting was consigned to auction by the Tracy family in 2017. The Tracy family, unaware the painting was stolen, took care to preserve the painting, which they admired for decades in their home. After working with the FBI, the Potomack Auction Company, the Tracy family, and the Ukrainian Embassy, the painting was forfeited to the U.S Attorney’s Office and has been returned to the Ukrainian Ambassador.

“The FBI is proud to work with our partners to mark this important art repatriation and return the painting to the Ukrainian Embassy. The FBI works to return stolen art and other property to preserve the history and culture of countries around the world,” said Timothy M. Dunham, special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division. “Returning art to the proper owners is important and meaningful work made possible by our talented special agents and analysts. The FBI would like to thank the Potomack Auction Company, the Tracy family, and our partners at the United States Attorney’s Office of D.C. and the Ukrainian Embassy, who all worked together to make this repatriation a reality.”

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