The power of love and personal matters

They cost as much as football players but are likely to be a far wiser investment. In the week that saw two record-breaking sales of paintings by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, a new collector has been revealed. Roman Abramovich, the Russian tycoon and owner of Chelsea football club, is the mystery buyer of the two paintings, according to reliable sources.

While Abramovich is better known for studying the sometimes patchy form of the players he buys, experts say that the $120m (£61.4m) buying spree suggests that he has found a new enthusiasm. His inspiration is likely to be his model girlfriend Daria "Dasha" Zhukova, who has recently spoken of her desire to open a contemporary art gallery in Moscow.(...)

Abramovich, worth an estimated £11.7 billion in The Sunday Times Rich List this year, announced his split from Irina, his second wife, last year.

He is now in a relationship with Zhukova, the 25-year-old daughter of a former cinema projectionist who then made his fortune as an oil trader.

Zhukova has launched her own fashion label while studying homeopathy in London. Despite her reputation as a socialite, she is said to prefer a quiet night at home and is an art enthusiast.

One of her projects, to transform a 1920s bus garage in Moscow into a gallery for contemporary art and culture, is expected to be launched next month. Amy Winehouse is reported to have been offered about £1m to sing at the event.

Asked about the purchases, a spokesman for Abramovich said: "We do not comment on personal matters."

Notícia de hoje no Times Online

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