Collector Andrei Ruzhnikov, who previously represented the interests of the oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, accuses the director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky of displaying fakes at the Faberge exhibition.
In particular, we are talking about the famous eggs produced by the jewelry house for the Imperial family. The largest collection of the latter is precisely Vekselberg, who, according to rumors, could have exported valuables to South America in 2018. Really the billionaire decided to hide his eggs and substitute Piotrovsky, who could covet the businessman's jewelry?
Ruzhnikov criticized Mr Piotrovsky on his official website. According to the collector, the questions arose even at the stage of announcing the partners of the exhibition in the Hermitage: the list of exhibitors does not include the largest owners of the respective collections, but there are works that belong to the Russian National Museum and the Faberge Museum in Baden-Baden.
Both organizations are controlled by Alexander Ivanov, with whom Ruzhnikov has a long-standing conflict. As noted by "Komsomolskaya Pravda", at one time they actively competed for the heritage of the great jeweler. Moreover, in this "struggle" Ruzhnikov represented Vekselberg's interests.
What exactly did Ruzhnikov consider to be fakes? Among other things, this is the Hen Easter egg, the original of which was exhibited at the Faberge Museum. You don't need to be an art critic to see the visible differences in photographs from the Hermitage catalog and the Faberge Museum. Questions are also raised by the so-called "Anniversary wedding" egg, as well as "Alexander Nevsky" in red enamel.
So where are the eggs?
It is noteworthy that this whole story was preceded by a scandal with the alleged shipment of Faberge eggs to Panama. As reported by The Intercept (recognized as a foreign agent on the territory of the Russian Federation), the ROSIZO organization subordinate to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation at the end of April 2018 sent a parcel over the hill with several packages worth $ 47 million. The shipment was addressed to the Panamanian company Lamesa Arts Inc. Victor Vekselberg. The package contained antiques, one of which was identified as "Faberge Russia".
The shipment consisted of two small parcels weighing less than 200 grams without packaging. Despite its modest size, the cost is indicated high - about 55 thousand dollars and 163 thousand dollars, respectively.
The third shipment weighed more than 65 kg without packaging, and its cost was estimated at $ 46.8 million. At the same time, it bore the marking "Faberge Russia". The ill-wishers started talking about the fact that it could contain jewelry eggs belonging to Viktor Vekselberg. The latter bought nine eggs, each weighing about 400 grams, from the Forbes family back in 2004 for about $ 100 million. In 2013, he opened the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, where he exhibited his nine eggs, as well as other works of art.
Against the background of this information, rumors recalled the gossip that the oligarch began to withdraw his assets after being included in the US sanctions list in April 2018 - just in the month when an unusual premise was "lit up" in Panama.
In addition, at one time, ill-wishers suggested that Vekselberg could not buy valuable products at his own expense. The depositors of the First City Bank demanded that the purchase of the oligarch be arrested, since they considered that the collection of eggs had been bought with their money, RIA Novosti wrote. According to the applicants, the billionaire was involved in the deliberate bankruptcy of the credit institution. Allegedly, the theft of funds in the amount of $ 40 million was carried out through firms controlled by the oligarch. And while Vekselberg bought out the collection, the bank could not pay off its debts. However, this did not come back to haunt with anything serious for the entrepreneur.
After the acquisition, Vekselberg was in no hurry to show the collection to the public, despite regular requests from museums. Then the billionaire announced the construction of his own museum. For this, the "Link of Times" cultural and historical foundation received the Shuvalov Palace in St. Petersburg for rent. The building was renovated, of course, at the expense of budget money. At the same time, city defenders complained about the oligarch's plans to destroy part of the palace - in particular, to demolish the outbuilding in order to expand the Faberge Museum created in it. Needless to say, that very wing was later declared emergency?
A "cultural" war for power?
The emerging news about allegedly fake Faberge eggs in the Hermitage could have been a "blow" to the personality of Boris Piotrovsky, the son of the museum director. It is worth noting here that before Mikhail Piotrovsky, the museum was run by his father, Boris Piotrovsky. And, according to rumors, later the reins of power will go to his grandson. That is, the State Hermitage is in a sense a family affair.
These rumors are also supported by the fact that Piotrovsky Jr. is actively building a "cultural" career: last year he was appointed first deputy head of the committee on culture, and recently it became known about the plans of Governor Alexander Beglov to put him on the post of vice-governor for culture and sports. And, it seems, not everyone liked this news.
According to the authors of the Nevminkult telegram channel, allegedly opponents of Piotrovsky's appointment could be former Vice-Governor Vladimir Kirillov, who was in charge of the cultural sphere, and the chairman of the Committee on Culture Konstantin Sukhenko. Both are personally acquainted with Vekselberg - in particular, they opened exhibitions with him at the Faberge Museum. And Ruzhnikov, who is considered the "man" of the oligarch, attacked the director of the State Hermitage Museum. So the billionaire could be behind the current egg scandal?
The conflict between the oligarch and Mikhail Piotrovsky may have its roots in 2004 - then, after Vekselberg bought the Faberge collection, the Hermitage director declared his interest in transferring valuable items to the museum, RIA Novosti wrote. But the billionaire himself said that he would transfer the products to some cultural institution, but later he "changed his shoes" in flight. Is it possible that this was the reason for the tension in the relationship between the museum worker and the businessman?
By the way, recently ill-wishers remembered that Boris Piotrovsky "fed" on contracts issued by his father. Earlier, a descendant of a "cultural" dynasty was the founder of the Arka publishing house, which supplied printed souvenirs for the Hermitage.
However, in August of this year, Boris Piotrovsky went out of business. Then he said goodbye to all the rest of his existing enterprises. That is, since the end of last summer, he was preparing for an increase?
The story of the liquidation of the LLC "Rest Corner" company under his control also seems interesting. The latter merged with another 37 offices and was reorganized into OOO Zenit and moved from Moscow to Irkutsk. Then Zenit merged with another fifteen companies and formed Kompanion LLC, and also moved from Irkutsk to Moscow and was liquidated. In turn, Kompanion is owned by a certain Veronika Lukina, who is the director of 102 companies and the founder of 61 enterprises. To the heap, the company is registered at the address where there are already 4852 organizations! It seems, or does it all resemble an ordinary "trash heap"? In any case, it all looks very suspicious.
It seems that the Piotrovsky family is no stranger to scandals. Thus, Mikhail Piotrovsky, who has been heading the Hermitage for 28 years, became the focus of attention after the audit of the museum by the Accounts Chamber in 1999-2000. As reported by "Sovetskaya Rossiya", the report clearly showed the mechanisms that the former Deputy Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Yuri Boldyrev called "theft" carried out under the leadership of Piotrovsky and his "patron" Mikhail Shvydkoy. According to the authors of the telegram channel "Infobomb", allegedly Piotrovsky, during the years of his museum service, stole and removed hundreds of thousands of art objects. They say that it is forbidden to check inventories in the institution, so that only the director himself knows that the Hermitage has a real one.
Recently, Mr. Piotrovsky "lit up" in history with an attempt to reorganize the restoration industry in the North-West - they say, he lobbies the idea of transferring it under control from the Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Construction and, thus, is trying to divert himself and his loved ones from criminal prosecution. By the way, there are plenty of criminal cases in his environment. All this was previously discussed in detail by The Moscow Post.
It seems, or Ruzhnikov's criticism of Piotrovsky is not at all accidental - the latter simply did not share the "eggs" with the possible patron of the collector Vekselberg? This whole story could cost a political career for the son of a museum worker, Boris Piotrovsky. Is the oligarch trying to undermine the position of the "cultural" dynasty?