Bloomberg does a detailed look at Russian spending habits in the new age of austerity. Where there were 74 billionaires in Moscow last year, there are now only 27. And though Anastasai Ustinova finds many examples of the rich still living richly–like sold out African safaris at $150,000 each–the consumption ethic has been replaced by a sober sense of patriotism.
Many oligarchs are seeking state protection from Western creditors and don’t want to irritate the Kremlin with outlandish behavior at a time when the government has declared social spending its top priority, Dobrovinsky said.
“The private jets are still there, but the names of the owners have been scratched off,” said Dobrovinsky.
President Dmitry Medvedev spelled it out last month, saying the wealthiest Russians need to focus more on their businesses and less on personal spending to help the country weather the worst economic crisis in a decade.
“People became very wealthy in a very short time,” Medvedev, 43, a lawyer by training, said in a March 15 television interview. “Now it’s time to repay debts, moral debts, because this crisis is a test of maturity.”
The question remains, where does art fit into the new mood. There’s still a lot of Russian art and works of art that has not been brought back to the motherland after a century’s diaspora.