MOSCOW, June 14 (RAPSI) – Presidium of the Russian Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a ruling on confiscation of the painting by prominent artist Karl Briullov entitled ‘Christ in the Sepulcher' from German collector Alexander Pevzner, RAPSI reports from the courtroom.

Thus, the painting is to be returned to Pevzner, his lawyer Maxim Krupsky told RAPSI.

The painting smuggling case against the collector is to be reconsidered, the court held.

In 2003, Pevzner brought the painting he owned into Russia via the customs station in Vyborg in the Leningrad Region. Even though it was a cultural property, Pevzner did not declare the masterpiece, according to investigators. The collector was charged with smuggling.

In November 2013, the Vyborg City Court in the Leningrad Region dropped charges against the German citizen as the statute of limitations had expired. However, the court ruled to confiscate the painting from Pevzner and ordered its transfer to the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

In 2014, the Leningrad Regional Court overturned the lower court’s ruling in part and returned the piece of art to its owner. In 2015, the decision was upheld.

In April 2016, the Supreme Court of Russia reversed the Leningrad Regional Court’s ruling and ordered the forfeiture of the painting under the Article 81 of the Criminal Procedure Code which envisages that crime instruments belonging to the accused must be confiscated, transferred to the relevant institutions or destroyed.

Pevzner has filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court of Russia challenging the Criminal Procedure Code’s provisions allowing to forfeit objects of art if they are declared material evidence.

In March, the Constitutional Court held that the painting seized from Pevzner may be returned to him only after he is acquitted. The court ruled to review all rulings in the case and to offer a choice to the collector: either he agrees to cancellation of criminal case and loses rights to the painting or keeps the case ongoing, looking forward to the sentence, whatever it may be.