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Russian Artist Tricks U.K. Galleries With 'Sales' To Tajik President

Conceptual artist Petro Wodkins said Tajik leader Emomali Rahmon was ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a modern art collection for his daughter.
A Russian artist posing as an aide to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon says a number of prominent British galleries were ready to sell high-priced works of art to the Central Asian leader using offshore accounts.

Britain's "Sunday Times" reports that the Russian, a conceptual artist who works under the pseudonym Petro Wodkins, said he pretended to negotiate the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of art by China's Ai Weiwei and Britain's Damien Hirst on behalf of Rahmon.

Wodkins said almost none of the galleries he contacted were deterred by Rahmon's poor human rights record or his request to use an offshore account to prevent ordinary, "poor" Tajiks from finding out.

Wodkins, who recorded his fake negotiations, is planning to release an online video about his findings this week.

Some of the galleries told the "Times" the talks were in an early stage and that the deals would not have gone through.

Based on reporting by "Sunday Times" and