Russian Dictator's Crony Props Up American Art MarketS

Everyone was surprised when Lucian Freud's 1995 painting, "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping," fetched $33 million at a Christie's auction—way more than was predicted. The anonymous buyer, who also bought a Francis Bacon work at Sotheby's for $90 mil, turns out to be Roman Abramovich, the dubious Russian billionaire who is one of prime minister Vladimir Putin's closest pals. WTF did he get the cash? "In 1995 Abramovich, one of Putin's closest allies, paid a mere $100 million for [state oil company] Sifnet; ten years later, the government shelled out $13.7 billion for it - an astronomical sum and far above the going market rate," reports the Daily Mail. Putin had promised to share the proceeds of oil wealth with Russia's poor. He's sharing, all right—with rich billionaires and our art market—which surely needs the millions more than Russia's failing health and education system.