St. Petersburg Environs Feature
The much-discussed art collection of Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya will be on display in its entirety at Konstantine Palace in 2008. The collection of 850 items of Russian paintings, art, and crafts which took 30 years to acquire originally belonged to the famed Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, opera star soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. The couple fled the Soviet Union in 1974 under fire for their support of dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. After Rostropovich's death, Vishnevskaya decided to auction the collection, saying she didn't have enough money to maintain it and keep it safe. Russian steel magnate Alisher Usmanov preempted a Sotheby's auction by buying the collection outright, reportedly for more than the $40 million it was expected to fetch at auction. He said he chose Konstantine Palace as the collection's home because: "I wanted to obey the will of Galina Vishnevskaya, who would like the collection to find its place in one of the palaces of St. Petersburg. I learned that one of the beautifully and recently rebuilt palaces, the Konstantine Palace, has no collection of its own." The collection includes works by some of Russia's most renowned painters, including Ilya Repin and Boris Grigoryev, as well as furniture, porcelain, silver, and other items.
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