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Controversial Aivazovsky painting sells at auction amid Kiev’s claims of foul play

The 1878 painting, titled Moonlit Night, was sold at auction on February 18 for 92 mln rubles

MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. Ukraine’s claims about the shady auctioning of the Moonlit Night painting created by famous Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky do not bother the buyer of the piece, art historian and co-founder of the Moscow Auction House Sergey Podstanitsky said.

The 1878 painting, titled Moonlit Night, was sold at auction on February 18 for 92 mln rubles ($996,500). Ukrainian mass media suggested earlier that the Aivazovsky that disappeared from the Simferopol Arts Museum in 2014 would be auctioned. However, auctioneers determined that the two paintings were not one and the same.

The Aivazovsky sold at the auction, which shows views of Constantinople, was acquired in 2008 in Sweden at the Stockholms Auktionsverk auction. It is dated 1878. The other painting, also titled Moonlit Night, depicts the Black Sea coast near Feodosiya and was painted in 1882. This canvas was kept in the Simferopol Museum of Arts.

"There is no evidence supporting the strange claims made by this side," Podstanitsky said.

Expectations that the painting would sell for 100 mln rubles ($1.1 mln) did not materialize, but what the painting brought in at auction was nothing to sneeze at, the expert said. "This was the asking price, the starting price. When the price appeared the seller agrees to and there was no one more active - and this is the essence of the auction, to discover the real market price - regrettably, our hopes for 100 mln [rubles] did not come true. Nevertheless, I think you will be agree that 92 mln is a very good price," he noted.

Russian art experts view Ukraine’s claims about the stolen painting being sold to be fabricated.

"The situation appears rather hilarious, although it definitely made the auction house’s blood boil. This was caused by the fact that Aivazovsky had a mammoth number of paintings, including dozens called ‘Moonlit Night.’ When Ukraine lost Crimea, it automatically announced all exhibits of Crimean museums stolen, announced their search and filed them with the Interpol database. There is a painting titled ‘Moonlit Night’ from the Simferopol Museum," arts expert and blogger Sofia Bagdasarova told TASS.

Aivazovsky was very prodigious and painted many pieces, Tretyakov Gallery arts expert Kirill Svetlyakov said. "However, a Russian museum would never resort to selling items from museum inventories," Svetlyakov stressed.