Russian art collector Andrei Filatov offers to buy America’s problematic statues

Andrei Filatov, a Russian businessman, chess enthusiast and art collector, offered to buy monuments to former US President Theodore Roosevelt in New York and to Alexander Baranov, a Tsarist official, in Alaska, who have been targeted by protesters demanding the removal of racists and colonial symbols. According to a statement released Wednesday by its London-based Russian Art Foundation, requests have been sent to officials in New York and Sitka, Alaska, offering to preserve the monuments in memory of the two men’s efforts to advance Russian interests. .

Activists in Alaska want the monument to Baranov, who led the Russian trading society there and ruled the region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when it was a Russian colony, moved to a less important place., saying that he perpetrated the genocide of the indigenous communities. The statue was commissioned by local philanthropists in the 1980s. And in New York, the American Museum of Natural History, with the support of the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio, recently agreed to remove the statue that stands in front of it. the museum. Protesters have repeatedly vandalized the statue in recent years because of its composition, depicting an African and an Indigenous person at the feet of the former president.

“First of all, it is about preserving the memory of statesmen who influenced the history of Russia, the development of its economy and its statehood,” Filatov said in the statement. He pointed to Baranov’s early efforts to establish Russian commercial ties with China and the United States, and Roosevelt’s mediation of the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth which ended the Russo-Japanese War on favorable terms for the Russia.

Filatov’s fortune, made in transportation and logistics, is estimated by Forbes at $750 million, down from $1.1 billion last year, when he was on the publication’s list of richest people in the world. His Russian Art Foundation holds a private collection of Soviet art from 1917 to 1991 and has sponsored the Serpentine Galleries in London, as well as exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery and Abu Dhabi.

Norma D. Ross