Rostropovich collection to go to Petersburg palace
( RIA Novosti ) - The late cellist Mstislav Rostropovich's art collection, acquired by a Kremlin-friendly billionaire, will be placed in a palace near St. Petersburg, the owner said Monday.
Alisher Usmanov earlier said he had paid $72 million for the collection of Russian art, built up by Rostropovich and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, to stop its sale at a Sotheby's auction in London in late September. He said he would donate the collection to the state.
"I want to fulfill Galina Vishnevskaya's wish that the collection should be put on display in one of St. Petersburg's palaces," Usmanov told a news conference. "I then found out that the Constantine Palace, which has been restored recently, has no collection of its own."
Usmanov, Russia's 18th richest man, said he had coordinated the plan with the presidential administration and federal culture agency head Mikhail Shvydkoi.
The palace in Strelna, which was originally the Russian royal family's summer residence, hosted more than 50 heads of state during St. Petersburg's 300-year celebrations in 2003. It also saw a Group of Eight summit three years later. The sumptuous building, which overlooks the Gulf of Finland, underwent extensive renovation in 2001 under President Vladimir Putin, who turned it into his residence in St. Petersburg.
The collection includes furniture, porcelain and glass once owned by Russian tsars. There are also paintings by Nikolai Roerich, Ilya Repin, and Alexander Ivanov.
Moscow's Tretyakov gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, as well as leading museums in St. Petersburg, were earlier mentioned as the most obvious places to accommodate the collection.
After the renowned musician died in April aged 80, his wife decided to move back to Russia and sell the collection they had amassed after being forced to emigrate in 1974. She cited high maintenance costs as the reason for the sale.
Usmanov said the artwork, currently being kept at Sotheby's, would be sent to the Constantine Palace by Christmas. He said the auction house had agreed to help obtain permission to take the collection out of Britain.