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By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with Classical music has been one of the features of Russian national identity and patriotic sentiment since the 1917 Revolution, especially among the self-professing intelligentsia of Moscow and St. Petersburg.  That meant Tchaikovsky alongside Pushkin; Shostakovich and Prokofiev beside Gorky and Sholokhov. Even during the past twenty years, the classical music […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with The Russian literary intelligentsia doesn’t have a long history – just 200 years of the Russian language in poetry, for example. So it’s to be expected that the writers, including the poets, haven’t had time to overcome the resentment and envy of each other which is still the Russian intelligentsia’s […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with Harry Lime, the Third Man, was the character invented by British novelist and one-time intelligence officer Graham Greene, who understood how investment bankers operate when the breakdown of government makes the black market the only source of supply, trade, and profit. Lime’s racket in post-war 1948 Vienna, then occupied by […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The grand house domestic serial which has been one of the staples of British television is quite impossible in Russia. That’s not because pre-revolutionary Russia lacked the aristo palaces and gilded families, or that nostalgia isn’t popular on television. It’s because the gap between the upstairs family and the downstairs servants […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow In a ruling of Russia’s Constitutional Court, issued on July 18, fifteen out of sixteen judges ruled that a state of lawlessness now prevails in the country, in which the constitutional rights of citizens to have courts adjudicate government decisions, with evidence and reasoning, have been abolished.  The court ruling came […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow For one day  in London every June and December, the Russian assets which regularly pass through greased palms on terms dismal for their repetitiveness,  are of a beauty to make you forget the damage the trade does to the country and its people. The Russian Art Week auctions are the occasion. […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow On March 1, the Brussels art dealer Bru Sale has announced it will auction  184 lots in a collection the dealer in charge,  Didier Sacareau,  is calling Russian art paintings and drawings. Works by some of the best-known artists among the Russian avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century are on […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow  If you were the only person in the world who thought yourself a genius, it would be an embarrassment to be named Barry Parsnip. Robert Zimmerman solved the nomenclature problem. He became Bob Dylan – and Hey Presto! He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016. Barry Parsnip (aka Boris […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If the London art market is a test of reality, then last week’s Russian Week sales demonstrate that Russian buyers are poorer, and there is now less Russian money for buying Russian paintings, jewellery, porcelain and other art objects than at any time since Russian Week started in London in 2005. […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Forgery in the Russian art market is diminishing. “The situation is becoming much better. There are now very few fakes,” reports James Butterwick, a London-based dealer and specialist in Russian art. “This has nothing to do with the experts. The market is the expert now, and it’s become very difficult to […]