Eurasianet looks into Georgia’s Bidzina Ivanishvili and his slow-moving plans to build a museum in Tbilisi. The delay has been caused by his political entaglements:
In 2006, when Ivanishvili acquired Pablo Picasso’s 1941 painting Dora Maar au Chat for $95 million, art critics largely derided the purchase as another instance of a Russian billionaire overpaying for prestige, without understanding the art work itself. One year later, his $11.3 million purchase of Scottish painter Peter Doig’s “White Canoe,” ranked as the highest price ever paid for a work by a living European artist, had sent market prices for modern art into the stratosphere.
According to Ivanishvili, who made his $5.5 billion fortune in the Russian banking and metals industries, such headline-grabbing purchases were part of a calculated business strategy — opening a world-class art museum in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, that can do battle with New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim museum and other prominent modern art centers.
“This all started because I thought about what I can do for the country, for tourism, to rejuvenate Georgia,” Ivanishvili said during an interview with EurasiaNet.org. Some “one, two, three hundred million” dollars have been set aside for the museum’s collection, he continued.
Impressionist works – a field favored by his wife, Eka – that he could afford to buy “would not be interesting for European tourists,” he continued, while, with less money, modern art can make Georgia stand more easily apart.