Have you read any of the articles in the NY Times about the Russian art collector who saved Uzbek folk art and modern Russian art from destruction by collecting thousands of pieces for his museum? The museum was long unknown to most of the world, located as it was in a remote desert area of Uzbekistan (near the dried up Aral Sea), a region called the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
The first Times story, published in January 1998, is posted here. It stunned the art world. Igor Savitsky, who died in 1984, had seen the beauty of the modern art that was considered “degenerate” by Stalin and the post-Stalin Soviet Union. He tracked down artists and artists’ relatives and squirreled the works away in the desert museum.
Savitsky was sly and often got government functionaries to pay for an acquisition without their realizing what it was exactly. Many thought his museum housed only the ancient artifacts uncovered in state-sponsored Central Asia archeological digs. The collector even got government money for devastating works by a woman who had been sent to the Gulag. He didn’t tell the authorities that the pictures detailed the horrors of the Gulag but said they were of Nazi concentration camps.