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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Government to Buy 'Black Square' for $1M

The government said Friday that it will buy a famous painting of a plain black square by avant-garde artist Kasimir Malevich for $1 million, ending weeks of speculation about the painting's fate.

Creditors for bankrupt Inkombank had intended to sell the "Black Square" painting at auction, but at the last minute the Culture Ministry declared it a state cultural monument and ordered it removed from the auction list.

After two weeks of negotiations, the creditors agreed to sell the work to the state for $1 million. Vladimir Potanin, head of the Interros industrial group, will donate the money to the government to help it acquire the painting, the Culture Ministry said.

The painting will be displayed at the renowned Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, officials said.

"Black Square," painted in 1913, is one of four known versions of Malevich's trademark Suprematist square -- the other three of which are held by Russian museums.

It was believed destroyed, until Inkombank acquired it in the 1990s. The bank went bust during Russia's 1998 financial crisis.

"Black Square" was to be the centerpiece of a planned auction of Inkombank works in Russia and had been expected to fetch up to $10 million. Experts said it could have been sold for much more at a foreign house like Sotheby's or Christie's, but Russian law prohibits such art from being exported.