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Owner of Titian painting ready for new negotiations with Pushkin Museum

December 13, 2018, 19:27 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The director of the Pushkin Museum said the museum still has hope of getting the work of art into its collection

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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 13. / TASS /. The owner of Titian’s painting "Venus and Adonis" has contacted the director of the Pushkin Museum Marina Loshak and said that he was ready to negotiate the sale of the canvas, Loshak told reporters on Thursday.

According to her, the museum still has hope of getting the work of art into its collection.

Earlier it was reported that despite verbal agreement on the possible acquisition of paintings by the Pushkin Museum, the owner of the painting asked to return it. "The person whom we have been trying to reach all this time called me and said that he was very grateful for the exhibition and that he was returning on December 25 and ready to hold negotiations," said Loshak.

According to her, the painting's owner has not changed his mind, he is considering selling it. "He offered to complete all legal arrangements for the return of the painting now. But I said that we are worried that if the painting leaves, then there will be no negotiations. And I asked him to send an official letter that these negotiations will indeed be conducted, so that we could to purchase the canvas," Loshak said. "So we still have hope for some kind of successful outcome, and that is symbolic, it is all taking place before the New Year, so we hope that everything will come true," she said.

Earlier, Deputy Director for scientific work at the Pushkin Museum Victoria Markova told TASS that the owner has refused to sell it. For the museum and me personally this is a major blow and a huge loss and a tragedy. And not only for the museum. Given that the number of masterpieces that Russia lost during the Soviet era, including Titian’s works, the purchase of this painting would have been crucial for the country’s museum collection," Markova said.

The fate of the painting is troubled. Originally, it was believed to be a copy of Titian’s composition. However, in autumn 2005, Markova, a specialist in Italian art, found out that this was the original. Collector Vladimir Logvinenko, who owned the masterpiece, had asked her for an assessment. Later, research confirmed that this was the original and even the Prado Museum in Madrid admitted that the painting in its collection was a second version. The painting was in need of restoration services, and the Pushkin Museum, worried that it might end up in less skilled hands, advised sending it to Venice. After two years of restoration, the composition was taken to Switzerland. "We can say reliably that if I had not been in the right place at the right time and if we hadn’t provided assistance in studying the painting and its restoration, this masterpiece would not have existed today. It could have ended up in an unknown place, deemed a copy, or could have been damaged by renovation," Markova said.

Last year, the masterpiece was put on display at the Pushkin Museum’s exhibition titled: "Titian. Tintoretto. Veronese." The decision to show the painting at the exhibition was not an easy one, although this is a true masterpiece, Markova said. Usually, when a museum takes a painting from a private collection, it looks like a PR campaign, which helps the masterpiece get additional benefits in order to be sold at a higher price at an auction, she explained.

"We accepted the painting on condition that it will remain in the museum’s exposition for two years. And shortly after, the owner suggested that we buy it. There were no lengthy talks and no one had persuaded the collector - it was his idea," she said.

We thought that we had good chances of acquiring it given our verbal agreements," Markova said. However, this spring the owner wrote a letter demanding the urgent return of the painting. The museum convinced him to extend the exhibition until the end of 2018. "During that time, we found a sponsor, who was ready to buy this painting for us. We hoped that the owners would hold talks with us, and we had asked them about that all the time, even in writing, but we did not receive any response to these letters," she said. In his last letter, the owner demanded removing the painting from the exhibition by December 17 and returning it the next day.

Before the owner got in touch with Loshak, she told RBC TV channel that the refusal to sell the painting may once again compromise its biography. "If the decision will not be made now, on Monday we will have to pack things up, say good-bye to it, which will be ridiculously unfair not only for the museum, but for the painting in the first place. We have to understand that it is absolutely obvious that it will leave the cultural sphere, and its biography, which is just beginning to take shape, will again be destroyed," she said.

Initially, the owner agreed to sell the painting to the Pushkin Museum for $20 mln. But may have changed his mind hoping to sell it at a higher price at an auction after the museum’s exhibition.

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