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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dali, Chagall for Sale at Moscow Art Market

Always fancied a Dali on the mantlepiece or a Warhol on the wall? Art Moscow, an international art fair that opens Thursday, offers anyone with enough money the chance to walk away with a world-renowned artist.

Several leading Moscow galleries and a scattering of prestigious West European galleries from Paris, Vienna and Berlin will take part in the fair.

Focusing on the contemporary market, many of the Russian galleries will exhibit paintings and video installations by up-and-coming young Russian artists.

However, a great deal of attention and presumably money will be absorbed by the modern classics many of the European galleries are putting up for sale.

For instance, the Paris-based Albert Benamou gallery is offering Salvador Dali's famous sculpture of Venus.

With his characteristically strange sense of humor, Dali combined Greek mythology and home furnishings, fitting out the goddess of love with a set of drawers.

Volker Dihl will be aiming to sell Andy Warhol's silk-screen portrait of Lenin, whilst the Rudolf Kicken gallery probably won't have any difficulty in finding a new home for a Rodchenko photograph.

Also up for grabs are works by Rodin, Picasso, Renoir and two by Chagall. Unfortunately, the organizers of the market, Expo-Park, were unable to give precise details in advance as to exactly which works these are, partly because some of the galleries declined to name them and partly for bureaucratic reasons.

Bureaucracy has long beset the contemporary art world in Russia. Aidan Salakhov, owner of Moscow's Aidan gallery and a member of the expert committee that selected the market's participants, said that many Western galleries were previously scared off by customs charges, even when pieces were being brought in for non-commercial reasons.

This is the first time that foreign galleries have officially been able to bring items of such value into the country for sale, with many works of art previously sold unofficially, in breach of customs regulations.

Two previous attempts at organizing an art market of this kind in Moscow became bogged down by the mass of paperwork required for this kind of a show. Expo-Park's success in finally pulling it off is largely due to the powerful support of its sponsors: the Culture Ministry, the Cultural Committee of the city of Moscow and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Vasily Bychkov, the director of Expo-Park, said he hoped many items would be bought by the market's sponsors.

The Culture Ministry in particular is looking to beef up the modern collections of Russia's provincial art museums.

Bychkov said that "even where the provincial museums have a modern collection, it suffers from colossal gaps. There's an enormous stretch of time that isn't represented at all."

With only 23 participants selected by an expert committee, Art Moscow is hoping for quality over quantity.

"We would have liked there to be a thousand participants," Bychkov said. "But then the market would not have been good. And we knew that only a market where art of high quality was on show would interest Western galleries, buyers and the press."

Bychkov said he expected some buyers to jet in from the West but not a large number.

"We already have a few indicators, since some of the works have already been reserved," he said.

Confidentiality prevented Bychkov from naming the items in question, but if you have a few thousand dollars to spare you might want to hurry along before someone else gets that Renoir you've always had your eye on.

Art Moscow runs until March 9, at the Maly Manezh, 3/3 Georgiyevsky Pereulok. Metro: Tverskaya. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.