Italian police seize assets worth $144m, including artwork, from ‘Putin’s palace’ architect

Italian police have seized the property, including artwork, of Lanfranco Cirillo, the designer of a mysterious 18,000 sq m mansion on the Black Sea which many believe was built for Russian President Vladimir Cheese fries. Cirillo is under investigation for a tax crime.

According to Reuters news agency, the assets – art, money and jewelry worth around $144 million – were taken from a “well-known professional” in Brescia, northern Italy, by the news agency. law enforcement Guardia di Finanza. Confirmed sources Reuters that the individual is Cirillo.

The Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera reports that around 150 works were seized by artists such as Modigliani and Picasso. Marco Tolla of the Guardia di Finanza would not confirm the report but recounts The arts journal“According to normal practice, if the court enters a verdict of guilty [pending a trial] deemed conclusive, the works of art will be confiscated by the state and eventually given to Italian museums.

Cirillo’s lawyer, Stefano Lojacono, said in a statement: “The architect, who is in Moscow, is very disappointed [that] the fact that he bought prestigious properties and works of art in Italy – and that he supported his wife and daughter – is now used to claim that he faked his move to Italy. foreign. He adds that Cirillo was not guilty of any wrongdoing regarding Italian taxes. Lojacono could not be reached for further comment.

Earlier this year, we reported that Cirillo was being investigated by Italian authorities for allegedly failing to pay a €50m tax bill. Officials raided the 63-year-old Italian architect’s villa in Roncadelle near Brescia in February, where they discovered and confiscated a treasure trove of works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, Giorgio de Chirico and Lucio Fontana.

About 100 Guardia di Finanza agents searched the villa, which belongs to Cirillo’s wife, as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of money laundering and tax evasion from 2013-19 , Giornal of Brescia reported. Officers confiscated a dozen “highly valuable” paintings after it emerged they had not been registered with authorities as required by Italian law. Cirillo’s private helicopter was also seized.

Tolla says the previous seizure and this latest confiscation are part of the same case, adding that the investigation began “a few months ago” when police became aware of “irregularities” regarding Cirillo’s helicopter, triggering a larger investigation. The final seizure is “preventive” rather than conclusive and items can be returned depending on the final verdict in any court case, he says.

Born in Treviso, Cirillo moved to Russia via Kuwait in the 1990s, where he forged relationships with powerful businessmen, including Jordanian-Russian entrepreneur Ziyad Manasir. Since then, the architect has claimed in recent interviews that he has completed projects for 43 Russian billionaires, as well as companies such as Gazprom and Novatek. Cirillo received honorary citizenship from Putin in 2014. His lawyers argue that the architect generated his income for a period of six years in Russia and is not liable to pay taxes in Italy, Giornal of Brescia reported.

Putin has denied any connection to the Cirillo-designed Black Sea Palace, with Alexander Ponomarenko and Arkady Rotenberg – two wealthy allies – claiming ownership as of 2011 and 2021 respectively.

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