Georgian law enforcement reports that the painting was stolen from the family of Apolon Kutateladze in 1993. Kutateladze was the rector of the Art Academy in the last decade of the 20th century. “Black Lion” has been included on the international wanted list since 2010.
Acting Head of the Russian Federal Culture Agency Viktor Petrakov earlier confirmed that the painting exhibited at the Russian Antiques Salon in Moscow was indeed stolen, but then legally purchased from the artist’s family by Vyaceslav Yefimov. He said that they have copies of all the documents.
Georgian experts and the Kutateladze family claim that an examination is necessary in order to establish the authenticity of Pirosmani’s work.
“It is incredible that I, a professional, sold the painting, estimated as worth millions, for 2,000 lari. I sign many documents and it is not a problem to establish an authentication of the signature on the document sent from Moscow,” Kutateladze said.