Besso saved the Russian Government from a political maelstrom over "art theft" this week when it frantically placed a $500m risk at Lloyd's just ten minutes before it was too late.

Matisse's masterpiece La Danse (pictured above) had to be whisked back to Russia from display in Italy after a descendant of the original owner asked Rome magistrates to impound it on the grounds that the Soviet State stole the picture 82 years ago.

A Rome judge had planned to hold a hearing on the proposed impounding of La Danse the next day, giving the Russians just two hours till midday to start moving the painting out of the country. But the transit cover was limited to $55m and Besso rushed to the Lloyd's market to raise the cover needed. Ten minutes before midday, Besso placed the risk.

It was the second coup the Russian Government has brought Besso. The Lloyd's broker can also lay claim to placing the largest ever risk in the fine art world through Lloyd's by insuring the "Impressionisti da San Pietroburgo" exhibition, which includes La Danse, in St Petersburg for $1bn.

La Danse, painted in 1910, was one of many works of art confiscated from private collections by Lenin and the Bolsheviks a year after the Russian revolution in 1917.