MOSCOW, March 15 (UPI) -- Two major Russian museums are battling for the rights to display the Forbes Faberge collection of artworks made for the Romanov czars.
The Russian daily Izvestiya reports that oil billionaire Victor Vekselberg, who bought the collection from the Forbes family, was under pressure from the Kremlin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to place the collection with them.
Kremlin director Yelena Gagarina was quoted as saying that even if Vekselberg opens his own museum "we are ready to work with him." The Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky proposed that the old Faberge store building not far from his museum be converted into a museum to house the collection.
However Piotrovsky denied that there was "a battle behind the scenes" for the collection, saying, "The Hermitage and the Kremlin recognize that this is a private collection which the state cannot lay claim to and the owner will decide the best course of action."
Vekselberg privately purchased 194 Faberge objects collected by the late American publisher Malcolm Forbes, for a reported $100 million, ending the Forbes family's plans to sell them at auction in New York this month.