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RUSSIA

Painting by 'new artist' Putin fetches $1.1m

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A picture sketched by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and completed by a professionnal artist sold for 37 million roubles at a charity auction organised by an exclusive Moscow art gallery.

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Reuters - A picture sketched by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has fetched 37 million roubles ($1.15 million) at a charity auction.

The painting of snowfall seen through a window, finished by a professional artist, features a sprawling "Putin" signature and was introduced at Saturday's auction with the words: "Here is a new artist".

The auctioneer started bidding at 20,000 roubles ($620), the same as the other lots, only to meet cries of "Let's not be penny-pinchers" from the buyers, who demanded a starting price of five million roubles.

A black belt in judo, Putin has cultivated an image of a tough man, lionised by Russian media but so far not known for artistic talent.


An auction organiser said Putin had painted the picture in 20 minutes and then a professional artist filled in the details.

"Of all the paintings presented there, this was the best one," said a spokeswoman on Sunday for "Our Artists", the Moscow-based gallery which bought the painting.

The gallery, located in an exclusive wooded avenue just outside Moscow favoured by oligarchs and top officials, said it would exhibit the painting to the public.

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