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Christie's to Exhibit in Moscow Top Lots for Fall Auctions

John Varoli,

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) – Christie's International, the world's largest auction house, will seek to promote interest in its autumn sales by sending some 40 artworks to Moscow, including paintings by Modigliani, Warhol, Rubens as well as works by Faberge.

The exhibition (Oct. 18-20) is sponsored by the Russian State Library and ZAO Gazprombank, the banking arm of Russian gas producer OAO Gazprom. The event will be held at the library's 19th century mansion, Pashkov House, which stands opposite the Kremlin.

Russia is in its ninth year of economic growth, in large part driven by demand for oil, gas and metals. The country's newly affluent entrepreneurs are purchasing art for reasons that range from financial investing to home decorating as well as from a desire to build a collection.

''We're very keen to take non-Russian works of art to Moscow because we've seen the energy they've taken to these markets,'' said Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's Europe. ''This is not about testing the market in Russia; we know there are Russian collectors who will buy these works.'' Christie's said the three- day exhibition will promote sales of old masters, impressionist and modern art, postwar and contemporary art, as well as Chinese and Latin American works.

The auction house said that the Moscow show is its ''highest profile exhibit this autumn,'' and that ''all efforts are going into Moscow,'' according to Ellen Berkeley, Christie's director for business development in Europe. Only some of the works shown in Moscow will be exhibited in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Andy's 'Liz'

Among the Moscow exhibition's top draws are a ''Liz'' by Andy Warhol. The portrait of actress Elizabeth Taylor is expected to sell for ''in excess of $25 million,'' Christie's said. Also on display will be an oil sketch by 17th century Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens, ''Two Studies of a Young Man,'' which is estimated to sell for up to 6 million pounds.

''Russian interest in old masters has made a significant impact on the market in recent years, and we now take our Russian clients very seriously,'' said Richard Knight, head of old masters at Christie's in London. He added that ''there are certainly a dozen Russian clients'' who may bid on, and possibly win, this work by Rubens.

Another work in the Moscow show is Amedeo Modigliani's 1916 painting, ''Portrait du Sculpteur Oscar Miestchaninoff,'' which is expected to fetch as much as $25 million.

An 1897 Faberge picture frame, a gift from Russian Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra to their godchild, Prince Georges, also will be in the show and is expected to sell for up to $1.8 million, Christie's said.

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