Faberge collection sold by private treaty

Sotheby’s announced last week that the Forbes Collection of FabergК, which had been scheduled for sale at auction in New York in April, has been sold by private treaty to a prominent Russian industrialist.

The sale immediately follows the Russian government’s decision to axe a debilitating tax previously levied on art and antiques imports.

In what Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht called “an unanticipated and exceptional outcome” the Forbes family and Sotheby’s (who had guaranteed the sale) accepted a “remarkable offer” from Victor Vekselberg, the chief operating officer of Russia’s third largest oil and gas company TNK-BP.

While Sotheby’s, and the market as a whole, will be deprived of a showpiece sale, the auctioneers will doubtless save on marketing and catalogue costs following a deal behind closed doors.

One of the new generation of Russian industrialists, Mr Vekselberg is said to be the fourth richest man in Russia. In a statement released by the auction house he described the Forbes collection as “perhaps the most significant example of our cultural heritage outside Russia”. It is believed the new owner plans to put the collection on public display following its repatriation to Russia.

None of the parties would disclose the price of the private sale, which includes nine of the 50 Imperial eggs (only the Kremlin have more with ten) although the pre-sale estimate for these objets de luxe had been in excess of $90m.

Russian collectors are now competing in the international art market on a level playing field following the January 1 lifting of Russia’s 30 per cent import tax on art and antiquities. The Russian government hopes that wealthy art collectors will now bring more art and antiques into the country.

• Sotheby’s, whose use of financial guarantees was instrumental in securing both Malcolm Forbes’ FabergК and the Whitney collection, have now secured a long-term credit facility of up to $200m led by GE Commercial Finance Corporate Lending.

In a statement last week Bill Ruprecht said the three-year credit agreement would dramatically expand the company’s financing capacity.

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Published in: on February 26, 2004 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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