Leisure  |  Important Dates  |  Astrology  |  Archives
Back to Main Page

Renior Sculpture

Detail: Renior's Signature


Family Treasure Beyond Measure

It was 1969, and Zhirayr Grigoryan was teaching as a professor of geology at the University in Armenia in the USSR. The KGB authorities, the Soviet secret police, made contact with Zhirayr to assign him as a teacher of geology in Algeria, placing him in charge of a technical mission there. Zhirayr and his wife spent a year in Algeria.

As newcomers themselves, they befriended a French couple who lived nearby. The French couple was labeled persona non grata to the KGB because of the couple's relationship with the Chinese government, which was then on the outs with Moscow. Zhirayr helped this couple leave Algeria to escape from the grasp of Soviet operatives. Just before leaving, the French couple gave Zhirayr and his wife a gift as a token of appreciation for their aid in seeking refuge. Zhirayr was delighted to discover the gift was a beautiful small bronze statue.

Zhirayr was called back to the USSR because his contacts with the French couple made him a risk to the Soviets, and he continued to live under close scrutiny of the KGB. Although his family received a visa to immigrate to the United States in 1975, the government would not allow them to leave. In 1980, Zhirayr's oldest son, Movses, immigrated to the United States without his father, as they still wouldn't let Zhirayr leave. In 1988, Zhirayr's wife, Nadezhda, who had divorced Zhirayr to insulate the family from the wrath of the KGB, immigrated to the United States with their youngest son, Tovmas. In 1991, Zhirayr's son, Ruben moved to the United States, bringing the statue with him. Zhirayr finally moved to the United States in 1997, where he later died in 2002. In 1997, Zhirayr had given the sculpture to Tovmas and Ruben as a gift for the benefit of the immediate family.

No one really looked at the statue as anything special but more so just a family keepsake and it was kept in safekeeping. When Zhirayr died, Tovmas and Ruben decided to see what they could find out about the statue and see if it had any value. Together, they took the statue to the Los Angeles showroom of an international auction house. The person they spoke to admired the sculpture and commented that it was a nice piece of art but was an imitation. He offered them US $5,000 for the piece. Up until this time, they had no idea who the funny signature belonged to. It looked like "Reno." Now perplexed by the mere fact that it was recognized as an imitation of something reputable, it raised the curiosity of them even more to look into the history behind the art.

The person from the auction house continued calling, now offering to sell the sculpture for Tovmas and Ruben. They kindly declined the offer to allow themselves to research their family keepsake. Around the same time, a friend of theirs took a photograph of the sculpture to the Louvre Museum in Paris. The friend was told that it appeared to be an authentic Renoir and only one of two that appeared to be outside of France, the other being owned by a celebrity outside the United States.

Tovmas and Ruben are now actively trying to market the statue, which may fetch as much as US $20 million here in the United States. As most dedicated and passionate art collectors will agree, the availability of an original Renoir is as extraordinarily propitious, as it is exceptionally rare. For updates on this exclusive story, or for information about interests for acquiring the piece, contact POWER via the website or by mail to directly to ask for details. All inquiries will be kept confidential.

Business Links
NY Times
NYSE Daily