A billionaire Russian oligarch has paid just under 30 million euros to stop an art collection being sold abroad. Alisher Usmanov, the co-owner of Britain’s Arsenal football club, has stepped in to buy a collection that belonged to the late Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Usmanov, who is a metals magnate, has now donated the collection to the Russian state.
The work had been put up for auction at Sotheby’s in London by Rostropovich’s widow, the opera star Galina Vishnevskaya. She said: “I’m glad a buyer for the whole collection appeared at the last minute,” she said, “that it won’t be spread around the world, which would have destroyed the collection. Now it’ll be kept whole.”
Up until now the collection had been kept in Paris and London. Usmanov says his decision to give the artwork to the Russian government is “irreversible”.