Tate faces call to cut ties with Russian oligarch and Putin associate

Tate is facing pressure to sever ties to a Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch who has already been the target of US sanctions 自从 2018.

Viktor Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy conglomerate and an associate of Vladimir Putin, is an honorary member of the prestigious Tate Foundation in recognition of past donations, the gallery has confirmed.

然而, as all kinds of links between Russian oligarchs and the UK come under scrutiny, the Labour MP Chris Bryant said that supporters of Putin should be “removed” from Britain’s cultural institutions.

Vekselberg, who began amassing a fortune estimated to be as much as $9.3bn (£6.9bn) after Russia’s oil and aluminium industries were privatised, is among oligarchs who have invested heavily in western cultural institutions. As well as Tate, he has donated in the US to the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall – prior to sanctions being imposed.

But while he has been scrubbed from the boards of US institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his links with the Tate endure. He is listed in its most recently published annual report among its most valued supporters. The aim of the Tate Foundation is to support Tate’s growing need to fund acquisitions, exhibitions, 学习, 研究, conservation and capital projects. Vekselberg is not sanctioned by the UK.

Bryant, who is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Russia, 说: “We need to use every single sanction available to us: 它在等什么, cultural and sporting. We can’t be the generation that stood by while naked aggression stalked 欧洲.

“Of course Putin supporters should be removed from our cultural institutions and galleries and museums should run a mile from blood-drenched Russian money.”

Vekselberg has been approached for comment.

The pressure on Tate came as Ragnar Kjartansson – the star Icelandic artist who had been headlining the opening of another oligarch’s gallery in Moscow, which has been the Russian establishment’s answer to the Tate Modern – told the Guardian how the invasion of Ukraine prompted him to pull the plug on his involvement.

他说: “On the day of the invasion I sent them a letter saying that the day of this invasion is the last day of this performance. Usually I am swimming in a grey area but sometimes things are so obvious, ethically and morally.”

Kjartansson, whose re-filming of the popular soap opera Santa Barbara was due to have been the artistic centrepiece of Moscow’s new GES-2 直到 13 行进, said of working in Russia: “You just feel everybody is scared. Everyone is afraid and it is all about fear.”

The prestigious new arts centre, which was opened in December by Vladimir Putin, was built in a disused power station a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. It was established by one of Russia’s richest oligarchs, Leonid Mikhelson, whose V-A-C foundation has also funded Tate. His daughter, 维多利亚, was until recently a member of the Tate International Council, a by-invitation-only group of major international collectors and philanthropists from around the world. Mikhelson is not sanctioned by the UK.

A Tate spokesperson said: “Neither of these individuals are current donors, and there are no UK sanctions on any of Tate’s supporters.”