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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 5, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - Russian tycoon Viktor Wexelberg, who has bought a Faberge collection from the Forbes family, promises to put it on public display in this country.

    Wexelberg, Renova Inc. Board Chair, said in a RIA interview Thursday that his ambition was "to build a whole program of exhibiting the collection in Russia." He plans to show his Faberges primarily in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, to then move them on to places in Siberia (such as Tyumen and Irkutsk), where the Tyumen Oil Company (a subsidiary of Renova's) is operating.

    Before striking the deal with the Russian magnate, the Forbes were planning to put their Faberges up for sale at Sotheby's. Theirs is the world's largest Faberge collection in private hands.

    Wexelberg said his decision to buy the collection had been prompted by emotion rather than reason and that he had asked leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church to advise him on the matter only to receive "serious support" in response.

    This Faberge collection is valuable not so much in artistic terms as it is historically, which was a major factor behind the purchase, Wexelberg explained. The businessman would not reveal the exact amount of money he had paid to the Forbes family, saying only that the deal topped 100 million dollars. But this is just a beginning.

    According to Wexelberg, a foundation has just been set up to explore the possibilities of buying back Russian art treasures taken out of this country at various points in history.

    His acquisition includes 180 pieces of jewellery, including nine Easter eggs commissioned to the world-famous master Peter Carl Faberge by Russian Emperor Nicholas II.

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