Commercial Art

Billionaires in Russia these days are not unlike Medieval Italian city states — they love to outdo one another, to enhance the reputation of their “state”, and to engage in vicious fights against each other. The consorts of two of these modern Princes have decided to wage war in the Moscow art market.

Dasha Zhukova, 26-year old girlfriend of multi-billionaire soccer lover and recent art buyer Roman Abramovich, has established herself at her new CCC Moscow gallery in the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage. She is a master of self-promotion and her name is on every publicist’s lips. The enormous 85,000 square foot gallery is set up as a non-profit.

The first major show for the gallery (shared with the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts) is to be the premier retrospective in Russia of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Sponsorship of the show to the tune of $2 million was to come from the Prokhorov Foundation, run by Irina, sister of multi-billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. But they have pulled out. Gossip has it that Irina was irritated by the media’s obsession with Zhukova which, she said, was likely to overshadow the show itself.

$2 million is small change for the Abramoviches, so at least the show is in no danger. This seems to be a no-win for the Prokhorovs.

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