NEW YORK— Andrei Filatov, a Russian billionaire, businessman, and art collector has offered to purchase two U.S. statues that have been called for removal by protesters. One is the depiction of Theodore Roosevelt in New York and the other is of Alexander Baranov in Alaska.
The Theodore Roosevelt Equestrian Statue stands in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It had been vandalized throughout the years and will now be removed. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office confirmed that this is because the figures of the Native American and Black men are portrayed as “subjugated and racially inferior.”
President Roosevelt’s significance in Russian history is that he brokered the Treaty of Portsmouth between Russia and Japan in 1904. This won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.
The statue of Alexander Baranov is in Sitka, Alaska. Baranov was a merchant who once governed Russian America before the Alaska Purchase. A petition, signed by more than 2,500 people, calls for its removal. It claims that Baranov was a “colonist who came to Sitka, Alaska, without an invitation, to enrich himself, his company and his country,” and accuses him of leading “the armed assault on the local Tlingit people.”
Filatov founded Art Russe Foundation in 2012 to collect Russian art and loan it to museums and galleries. Most of the art is from the Soviet era (1917-1991). Filatov now wants to bring these two American statues to St. Petersburg.
“Both the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, and the governor of Russian settlements in North America, Alexander Baranov, were statesmen who left their positive mark in Russia’s history. We therefore see the need to preserve their memory for future generations,” said an Art Russe Foundation spokesperson.