The auction of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya's collection of Russian art, scheduled to take place at Sotheby's in London last week was cancelled. The entire collection, (Vendors :Galina Vishnevskaya and her daughter) consisting of 450 lots and estimated to be worth $26-40 million, were purchased entire by the owner of Kommersant Publishing House Alisher Usmanov, who intends to return the collection to Russia.
Sotheby's Russia and CIS head Mikhail Kamensky said"“the offer was made with the support and under the guarantee of the government of the Russian Federation, which played a decisive role for Vishnevskaya.”
In 2004, Russian businessman / oligarch / billionaire Viktor Vekselberg bought the Forbes family's entire of Faberge eggs.
Usmanov commented for Kommersant (Which he owns) that “I bought that collection because I thought it necessary to preserve the collection whole, since nothing like it will ever be seen again. Certain not with that quality. My second goal was the return of that major collection of Russian art to Russia. That was what helped us convince Sotheby's to sell the collection in a single lot. I certainly don't intend to keep the collection. It fate of the works is being decided my museum workers. They are deciding which museum, whether whole or in part, and so on. It's work for professionals.”
When asked if he had a favorite work from the collection, Usmanov answered “The draft for Alexander Ivanov's The Appearance of Christ before the People, the works of Grabar and Roerich and the porcelain.”
Usmanov has been on the cultural trail again recently and bought the rights to a collection of classic Soyuzmultfilm cartoons from an American company. Usmanov explained to a Kommersant correspondent that it was his civic position. “If it is possible to return something that is of value for Russia, the chance can't be lost. We were able in three days to return something that had long been lost. Higher powers helped us.” When asked if those higher powers were the Russian government, Usmanov took offence, “You know, I want you to write this: In our country, they even envy good deeds. No one gave me any orders. I don't even want to talk about it. There is no need to disparage my civic position, because I do what I can for my country and will continue to.”
Alisher Usmanov had bought the international rights to a library of classic Soviet animated films from the American company Films by Jove (FBJ) and given them to the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company. The collection was priced between 5-10 million dollars. It was reported in Kommersant that the management of the Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund, which has been fighting with FBJ for the legal rights to the library for several years, has already promised to raise objections to the new owner of the collection.
The Americans owned the screening/video rights to about 525-550 Soyuzmultfilm films (about 80 hours) outside the borders of the CIS, (The Soyuzmultfilm Film Fund owns the rights to the Soyuzmultfilm library on the territories of Russia and the other CIS countries.) including "Cheburashka", "The Snow Queen" and "Maugli". FBJ is owned by the American residents Oleg Vidov (who played the main role in the film "The Headless Rider") and his wife Joan Borsten. According to a close source, the sum paid was US$5-10 Mn. dollars.
Films by Jove restored many of the films and released many of them on television, video and DVD in the United States and Europe, albeit usually with dubbed voices and changed music. More recently, they've released some DVDs with films in the original Russian soundtrack with English subtitles (probably due to the complaints about the lackluster English dubs). Much of their collection can currently be viewed for free (with commercial breaks) on the website Memocast.
The party dedicated to the Rostropovich sale wasn't cancelled last night. Russian collectors who traveled to London to buy works , excited that a man like Mr U was buying all the works, attended wearing black mourning ribbons on their sleeves.
"The New York Times seems to confirm what many people in Moscow are saying: that Alisher Usmanov's purchase of the collection was essentially arranged by the Russian government. Interestingly, Sotheby's accepted a sale price only 25% above the estimates.
This is strikingly low, if we consider that, for Grigorev's Faces of Russia alone, sums of up to $20 million (5 times upper estimate) were being mooted. NY Times reports, inscrutably, that the Federal Culture Agency "presented some guarantees to Sotheby’s that this transaction would be in the interest of the Russian Federation", which suggests to me that the Russian government may have twisted both Usmanov's and Sotheby's arms.
Perhaps Sotheby's senses that the high success of its Russian sales is dependent ultimately on the goodwill of the Kremlin (Ho.Ho.Ho. ED.): after all, if it were suggested to Vekselberg, Usmanov and others that they stop spending their money at Sotheby's, I imagine that they would take the suggestion seriously, just as oligarchs took seriously the suggestion that they shouldn't travel to the most recent London Economic Forum. "
"The Portrait of a Woman" by Boris Grigoryev is dated 1917 and is a snap taken from the collection of Salomon A Schuster of St Petersburg - whose family have given much of their famous collection to the Hermitage.
Full Hi-res image Here
Boris Dmitreivich Grigoryev 1886-1939 has works in he St Petersburg Rusian Museum from the 1918 Expressionist Exhibition and also has works in the Tretyakov collection in Moscow. Several works are in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and Venice.
His work is much sought after, both in Russia and America. Mr U's jowls would quiver and he would probably lick his fat lips at the prospect of a copy of Grigoryev's "Russion Eroticism" a memoir he published as Professor at the Stroganov Institute.