But the auction house soon received an urgent message from the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum in Ukraine, claiming the painting had once been in their collection and had been stolen during World War II. One of the paintings on display when the then Ekaterinoslav City Art Museum opened in 1914, the painting disappeared during Nazi occupation of the city from 1941 to 1943.
The museum identified the painting as the original 1911 work by Mikhail Panin, titled Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichnina. It depicts a dejected looking Ivan the Terrible and his loyalists secretly fleeing the Kremlin as he abdicated the throne in 1564. Ivan eventually returned from his exile in Alexandrovskya Sloboda to reclaim power and create a new policy where he ruled absolutely, oprochnina.