Art collectors Igor and Olga Toporovski in custody

The art collector Igor Toporovski and his wife Olga have been in custody since Monday on suspicion of handling stolen goods, fraud and money laundering. News that the couple had been detained first appeared in the daily ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ and has since been confirmed by VRT News’ sources. The couple from the Brussels municipality of Jette first hit the headlines two years ago when there was controversy surrounding 24 Russian works from their private collection that they had lent the Ghent Museum of Fine Art for an exhibition. Not long after the exhibition opened doubts were raised as to whether the paintings were genuine.


The Toporovskis maintain their innocence

In October 2017 the Museum of Fine Art in Ghent (East Flanders) was caught in the eye of a storm. The museum exhibited 24 works by Russian avant-garde artists from the private collection of Igor and Olga Toporovski.

Shortly after the exhibition opened doubts were raised as to whether the works were genuine. The city authorities in Ghent carried out an audit and the Judicial Authorities opened an investigation. The Director of the museum was forced to resign and news of the controversy spread like wild fire through the international art world.

The Toporovskis maintain their innocence

Igor and Olga Toporovski continue to maintain that the works that they lent to the museum are genuine. The couple were detained on Monday and on Friday it was decided that they should remain in custody. The solicitor Geert Lenssens that represents a good number of artists and art dealers told VRT News that he is happy that the Ghent Judicial Authorities are taking the matter seriously.

“All my clients have been saying as one for years that the works that were displayed in the museum were forgeries. This undermines the credibility of art. As a visitor to a museum it is your worst nightmare that the works you have one to see are not authentic”, Mr Lenssens said.