By Aram Arkun|
NEW YORK — The New York headquarters of the international art auction firm Sotheby’s hosted a talk by art collector Andreas Roubian on the 19th-century painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, famous for his seascapes, on April 11. Roubian, one of the world’s leading Aivazovsky experts, displayed 10 masterworks of the artist from his own collection during the exhibition for Sotheby’s Russian art auction, April 7 to 11.Roubian, an entrepreneur in the field of international trade and logistics, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University’s Stern School of business and worked in several financial institutions. He became the chief financial officer of Danzas, an international logistics provider, in the 1980s, and then founded his own firm called FDS International. When Roubian was in his late twenties, FDS became one of the first software firms to implement paperless processes for the US Customs and related government agencies. After the first Gulf War, FDS provided the international logistics software for Kuwaiti reconstruction in the early 1990s.
Roubian taught finance and management sciences as a visiting lecturer and an adjunct professor at Pace University and the City University of New York for approximately 10 years in the 1980s. He has a large art collection including the works of many other Armenian artists like Hovsep Pushman and Mardiros Sarian.
Sonya Bekkerman, head of Sotheby’s Russian Paintings department in New York, hosted Roubian’s talk. In her introduction, Bekkerman said, “I met Andreas over 10 years ago. He invited me to his home to see his collection. Andreas played a critical role in my first sale of Russian paintings in 2004 and I’m very grateful to him for that. Since that time, I’ve been in many homes in many continents but have yet to see a collection of Aivazovsky of this magnitude, this quality and breadth and I am sure that I will not come across such a collection again.”
Bekkerman said that Roubian’s passion for art and collecting began when he was a teenager, instilled by his mother. Roubian is a leading authority on Aivazovsky who is writing a book focusing on the latter’s artwork. He often loans works from his private collection to museums, but this was the first time a small part of his holdings were displayed at Sotheby’s. Roubian is also an activist on behalf of his fellow Armenians. He served as the chairman of the Karabagh Committee in the late 1980s and early 1990s, helping both the soldiers of Karabagh and providing humanitarian aid to the rest of the population of the region. Roubian was the benefactor for the large cathedral of Shushi in Karabagh, the reconstruction of which he funded in the memory of his parents. Today he continues to be active in Armenian affairs, and supportive of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh. He frequently hosts benefits in his home.
Roubian presented a brief biography of Aivazovsky (1817-1900). He was born to a poor Armenian family in Theodosia in the Crimea (today Ukraine, but then, in the Russian Empire). His early drawings on walls with charcoal caught the attention of the chief architect of Theodosia, who was Aivazovsky’s father’s friend. Many local dignitaries also noticed him. This attention led to a full, six-year scholarship to the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. Tsar Nicolas I came to love his work and asked him to accompany the Russian navy together with his son. Roubian declared, “This was a match made in heaven and Nicolas I became Aivazovsky’s best patron, buying all of his art.”