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Prominent Russian-American Sculptor Ernst Neizvestny Dead At 91

The prominent Russian-American sculptor Ernst Neizvestny has died in New York at the age of 91.

Media reports in Russia quote Neizvestny's friends in New York as saying that he died in a hospital on August 9 after being admitted with abdominal pains.

In a telegram to Neizvestny’s relatives and friends, Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as "one of the greatest sculptors of our times," according to the Kremlin.

His death is a "grievous loss" for world culture, Putin added.

Neizvestny was a veteran of the Soviet Red Army who had fought against Nazi Germany in WWII.

In 1962, then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev harshly criticized Neizvestny's artwork.

Nevertheless, Neizvestny was asked by Khrushchev’s relatives to design and build Khrushchev's tombstone at Moscow's Novodevichye cemetery.

As a Jewish citizen, he was allowed to leave the Soviet Union and did so in 1976 -- moving to Switzerland for one year before settling in New York City.

Neizvestny’s artworks can be found in many sites across the world.

One of his best-known works is a gigantic sculpture called The Mask Of Sorrow that was unveiled in 1996 in Magadan, Russia. It commemorates victims of the Soviet gulag system.

With reporting by Interfax and RIA