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The Russian paintings affair was, in reality, a minor wrangle about timing. Were the Russians being opportunistic or just paranoid?

By Ben Lewis   February 2008

The Royal Academy’s once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of modern masterpieces from Russian museums has now opened—thanks, it would appear, to the quick decision taken by the British government to implement new legislation. The Russians feared the seizure of their art through British courts by unhappy creditors or by the heirs of collectors dispossessed in the Russian revolution. The British government’s action seemed to concede that the Russians had a point. Most of the British media agreed. But was this really the case, or were the Russians using a largely imaginary threat to hold Britain over a barrel?

One clue can be found…

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