Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought 35 contemporary artworks for his luxury yacht, Eclipse, an art dealer revealed.
The purchases came through Terence Disdale, who designs the interiors of Abramovich’s yachts, according to Joseph Clarke, director of Millennium, which has its gallery in southwest England.
Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea soccer club, doesn’t talk about his art purchases. His collecting, with his partner Dasha Zhukova, has boosted prices at some sales — and renewed buying could help market confidence, dealers said.
“Among the major collectors, he’s on the quieter side,” London-based art and design dealer Kenny Schachter said. “Any time a collector with that magnitude of resources enters the market, it’s good news for everyone.”
The Millennium transactions are so far worth 200,000 pounds ($326,000), bought over six months, Clarke said. Terence Disdale Design Ltd. does not comment on specific artworks bought for projects, said Fiona Diamond, the company’s public-relations spokeswoman. When contacted by Bloomberg News, John Mann, head of public relations at Millhouse LLC, who responds to press enquiries on behalf of Abramovich, declined to comment.
Abramovich, whose wealth was valued at 7 billion pounds by the Sunday Times’ Rich List 2009, owns three other superyachts. The 116-meter “Pelorus,” the previous pride of his fleet, is listed among commissions on Disdale Design’s web site.
Abramovich was the buyer of Francis Bacon’s 1976 “Triptych” for $86.3 million and Lucian Freud’s 1995 “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” for $33.6 million at auctions in New York in May 2008, dealers said. The prices set records for a postwar work of art and a work by a living artist, respectively.
Abramovich’s 13,000-metric ton yacht Eclipse is about 560 feet long and is the world’s biggest private yacht. It was built by Blohm + Voss of Hamburg, launched on June 12, 2009, and is due to be delivered this year. The yacht is protected by armor plating and a missile-defense system. Snooping snappers will be deterred by an anti-paparazzi laser shield that fires bolts of light at cameras to obliterate photographs.
The Bermuda-registered vessel, with a full-time crew of 70, boasts two helicopter pads, 11 guest cabins, a disco hall and at least one minisubmarine, the Live Yachting web site said. The total cost of Eclipse, which has taken four years to build, isn’t known, Live Yachting said. The final bill may approach $1.2 billion, Charlie Sorrel said on Wired.com in September 2009.
Sculptures by Millennium’s Simon Allen — who produces gilded wall reliefs resembling oversized jewelry, priced at 5,000 pounds to 18,000 pounds — and minimalist abstract paintings by Trevor Bell, which cost as much as 25,000 pounds, will displayed on the yacht, Clarke said.
Abramovich’s purchases illustrate how luxury interior-design projects have thrown a lifeline to galleries representing decorative artists who aren’t regarded as “cutting edge.”
“There’s a lot of activity at the moment for stylish, affordable pieces that appeal to interior designers,” said Anthony McNerney, the London-based head of the contemporary art department at Phillips de Pury & Co. “Often they aren’t the sort of things you’d see in our auctions.”
London designer Oliver Laws has selected further pieces from Millennium (valued at 200,000 pounds by Clarke) for the refurbishment of the Connaught hotel in Mayfair, said Paula Fitzherbert, head of public relations at the Maybourne Hotel Group.
“These works aren’t trendy,” said Clarke, whose gallery in St. Ives, Cornwall, shows a stable of Cornish-based painters and sculptors. “They’re made by the artists themselves, not assistants. No one’s trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They’re coming from a place with a long artistic tradition.”
Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach and Patrick Heron were among artists who settled in St. Ives last century. The Tate Gallery now has a branch in the port.