Alexander Ivanov (art collector)

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Alexander Ivanov
Born Alexander Ivanov
(1962-10-27)October 27, 1962
Ostrov, Pskov, Russian SFSR, USSR
Residence Moscow, Russia
Occupation Businessman, artist, art collector, owner of Faberge Museum

Alexander Ivanov (Russian: Александр Иванов, born 27 October 1962) is a Russian art collector who lives in Moscow. He is best known for the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, which is the first private Russian-owned museum outside of Russia. Ivanov has no business holdings or interests, but the value of his massive art collection makes him a billionaire. In spring 2010, he said that a Middle Eastern collector offered him $2 billion for his Fabergé collection, the world's largest Fabergé jewellery collection with more than 3,000 items. Ivanov's tastes extend to many areas, and he also collects dinosaur fossils, ancient Greek and Roman art, pre-Columbian gold, Old Master paintings, Impressionist paintings, Orthodox icons, and he also has one of the finest collections of vintage automobiles.[1] [2]

Ivanov's most significant purchase was the 1902 Fabergé egg made as an engagement gift to Baron Édouard de Rothschild. Ivanov bought it at Christie's in London on Nov. 28, 2007, for 9 million pounds ($18.5 million at the time), because he thought that it is Fabergé’s “finest ever.” [3]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Pskov, Russian SFSR, in 1962, Ivanov served in the Soviet Navy before making his studies in Moscow, eventually graduating in Law from Moscow State University. In the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union began to allow some capitalism, Ivanov was one of the first Russian businessmen to start trading in computers, and he quickly built up a successful and lucrative business. He began collecting Fabergé eggs and other art soon afterwards, because he had bags full of cash that he didn't know what to do with. Despite the minor relaxation of state repression under Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet society remained a place of severe restrictions, and terrible deficits of all consumer goods.[2]

Alexander Ivanov is also an artist, pioneering his own form of abstract painting that utilizes geometric images create with extremely vibrant colors whose pigments are partly made from very expensive and rare minerals. The presence of such precious ingredients is one reason that his first painting sold at auction went for 60 000 pounds at Bonhams on December 1, 2010 in London.[4]

Activities as art collector[edit]

Fabergé Museum[edit]

In May 2009 Ivanov opened the Fabergé Museum in the German spa city of Baden-Baden. Besides the Rothschild Faberge Egg, other items in the museum collection include a rare silver decanter in the form of a rabbit, and Karelian Birch, the last Imperial Easter Egg, made of Karelian birch with gold and diamonds for Easter 1917. Czar Nicholas II, however, was deposed before he could give it to his mother. When Ivanov first bought the Karelian egg, some experts resisted because its existence wasn’t known previously. Ivanov now has a convincing group of documents that his researchers found in the Russian state archives, proving that the egg is genuine. It has been shown at a number of major international exhibitions and is now accepted by scholars, he says.[5]

Ivanov said his museum building cost about 17 million euros to buy and renovate, including a 1 million euro security system. He chose Baden-Baden, near Germany’s western border, because it’s “close to France, a resort for the rich, and historically it has always been the most popular resort for Russians.” The local government has also been supportive, he said.[5]

Peter Carl Fabergé was official supplier to the Russian Imperial court from 1885 to 1917. It also catered to the growing demand for luxury items from the Russian Empire's newly rich as the economy boomed in the two decades before World War I. In addition to Easter eggs, Fabergé made a wide range of jewelry and decorative artworks, the most famous of which are semi-precious stone and jeweled figures of people, animals, and vases with flowers. The company had international brand recognition, with a shop in London, and among its international customers were the Queen of England, and the King of Siam (now Thailand). Fabergé's artworks became popular with Western collectors, led by Malcolm Forbes, in the 1960s. As Russian billionaires appeared on the market earlier this decade, prices reached records.

Ivanov said that one reason that he opened the museum in Germany was safety concerns. He told Britain's The Independent newspaper: "It's very difficult [in Russia] because of all the administrative barriers [...] You have to be indebted to someone, and you can never feel that your collection is safe – not from the state, not from bandits, not from anyone. In Germany we spend serious money on security of course, but at least you know that the state itself won't do anything."[2]

A new wing is planned for the Fabergé Museum that will add more than 600 meters of exhibition space for European Old Master paintings and pre-Columbian jewelry from Peru. More than 2,000 square meters (21,527 square feet) will also be created to house Ivanov's vintage car collection. He has about 50 American and European antique cars, all of which are in excellent condition and which date from the late 1890s to 1930. Ivanov also plans to open a Faberge Museum in Dubrovnik, and negotiations continue with the city government.[3]

In April 2009, just a month before the opening of the Fabergé Museum, a company called Fabergé Ltd., registered in the Cayman Islands, filed a lawsuit against the Fabergé Museum claiming it owned the rights to all things named "Fabergé". This legal action made the Fabergé Museum’s first year a difficult one because the museum was barred from using the Fabergé name, which meant no advertising or even a sign on the door. In its first 12 months, the museum made a profit of about 500,000 euros, compared with an expected profit of 1 million euros to 1.5 million euros, said Ivanov. He had expected a million visitors a year at 10 euros a head. In January 2010, a German court upheld the Fabergé Museum’s right to use its name.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ``Tycoon Ivanov Vies Faberge, Boosts $2 Billion Museum Collection, Bloomberg
  2. ^ a b c Russian billionaire feathers his Fabergé nest egg, Independent
  3. ^ a b c Ivanov Vies Faberge, Boosts $2 Billion Museum Collection, Bloomberg
  4. ^ [1], Bonhams
  5. ^ a b Ivanov Reveals $1.5 Billion Faberge Surprise for Germany, Bloomberg

External links[edit]