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Subject: Billionaire buys entire auction

Written By: Philip Eno on 09/18/07 at 3:23 am

From BBC News Online (full report):

A Russian billionaire has paid more than £20m for an art collection owned by late cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, days before it was due to be auctioned.

Alisher Usmanov, a mining and metals magnate and Arsenal Football Club investor, said he stepped in to keep the 450 artworks together in Russia.

Sotheby's has cancelled its London auction, where the items were due to be sold individually later this week.

The buyer paid a "substantially higher" sum than the £20m estimate, it said.

"When I knew that this collection would be sold at auction, I felt the need to try to preserve the collection in its entirety," Mr Usmanov told Russian state-run television.

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