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Ivanovo Region Pays $2.4Mln for Tarkovsky Archive

LONDON — The Ivanovo region on Wednesday paid 1.5 million pounds ($2.4 million), or 15 times the estimate, for an archive of thousands of letters, photographs and recordings once belonging to leading film director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Tarkovsky, who was born in the region in 1932, is considered one of Russia's greatest filmmakers, directing acclaimed movies including "Andrei Rublyov," "Solaris" and "The Mirror."

Sotheby's, which auctioned the archive in London, said the sale followed a "dramatic 18-minute bidding battle" that ended up between three bidders. The collection had been expected to fetch 80,000 to 100,000 pounds.

"The archive was purchased at the initiative of the government of the Ivanovo region in order to preserve the heritage of a genius film director in his homeland, the city of Yurevets in Russia," said a statement issued by Sotheby's. "The archive will be placed on public view in the Tarkovsky memorial house museum in the Ivanovo region."

The archive covers the last 20 years of the filmmaker's life and includes the draft of a letter to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev from the late 1970s urging him to lift a ban on screenings of his 1966 classic "Andrei Rublyov."

The letter underscores the director's prolonged tussle with Soviet authorities over censorship, which eventually caused Tarkovsky to leave his native country and spend the last four years of his life in exile.

Tarkovsky is considered one of the greatest film directors of the 20th century and perhaps second only to Sergei Eisenstein in terms of Russian cinema.

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