Aven has Latvian, Russian and Jewish heritage, and is currently based in Surrey, UK. Further to his political and business activities, he is a prominent supporter of the arts and enthusiastic collector. He has stated in numerous interviews that collecting has been a hobby of his since childhood, beginning with stamps and toy cars.
After finding success in his career, Aven began collecting paintings and his personal collection includes masterpieces of 20th century Russian painting by the likes of Marc Chagall and Wassily Kandinsky.
He has recently begun the process of realising his long-held dream of opening a museum to house his collection. It was announced in 2022 that he had purchased a building in Riga, with plans to open the venue to the public by 2025.
Petr Aven (also latinised as Pyotr Aven) is a Russian businessman, former politician and philanthropist. Between 2011 and 2022, he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alfa-Bank banking group. With a personal fortune estimated at around USD 4.7 billion, Aven has been ranked as the 28th richest businessperson in Russia.
Petr Aven first went into business in 1993 after leaving a government post. In 1989, Aven was appointed as an advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this period, he was sent under contract to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.
In 1992, Aven was Russian Minister of Economic Relations under the administration of Boris Yeltsin and Yegor Gaidar. When Gaidar left his post, Aven followed suit at the end of 1992.
The website of Petr Aven, a collector of Russian paintings, patron of the arts and co-founder of one of the world’s leading international investment holdings
Petr Aven graduated from Moscow State University in 1977, receiving a Candidate of Economic Sciences qualification in 1980. In 1989, Aven was appointed as an advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this period, he was sent under contract to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria. In 1991, he was appointed as First Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations under Yegor Gaidar. In 1992, he was named Russian Minister of Economic Relations under the administration of Boris Yeltsin. He was tasked with creating a new ruble exchange programme and solving Russia’s foreign debt crisis. He left his post in 1992, becoming an advisor for billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who was then the president of Russia’s first private car dealership and at one point had a net worth of USD 3 billion according to Forbes. He quickly made the jump from politics to business and, by 1994, had been made President of Alfa-Bank Russia and Member of the Board of Directors. He would remain prominent in his official capacities at Russia’s largest private bank for the next 18 years, becoming Chairman in 2011 before ultimately stepping down in 2022. It was during his time at Alfa-Bank that the now billionaire amassed much of his net worth, which today stands at an estimated USD 4.8 billion. Along with Mikhail Fridman and German Khan, Petr Aven founded the LetterOne Holdings investment company. He was officially made a board member of the LetterOne Group in 2013. LetterOne, also known as L1, has made significant long-term investments in a number of key sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare, energy and technology.
The first piece in his collection was a still life from the 1920s by Pavel Kuznetsov. Aven had seen Kuznetsov’s works in the homes of close acquaintances and had always liked them a lot.
Petr Aven’s collection of Russian paintings is considered the best among private collections. It contains unique works of art. They have been exhibited at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
About the collection
Today Aven’s collection includes works by Natalia Goncharova, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Marc Chagall, Pavel Kuznetsov, Alexandre Benois, Wassily Kandinsky, Konstantin Korovin and many others.
The Man in the Bowler Hat (Portrait Of Jacob Kagan-Sabsa) by Robert Falk.
Three Acrobats (1926) by Marc Chagall
Study for Improvisation 8 (1909) by Wassily Kandinsky
Red Houses (1922) by Marc Chagall
Madonna and Child (1903) by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Other gems in Aven’s collection include a number of paintings that are priceless in terms of their cultural significance:
Exhibits from Petr Aven's collection at the presentation of the catalogue Abramtsevo Pottery from Private Collections at the All-Russian Decorative Art Museum
In addition to paintings, Petr Aven also collects Soviet porcelain, Abramtsevo pottery and Vrubel's majolica works.
Books and lectures
Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh on the alternative ways this pivotal period in Russian history could have developed and how it affected the future of the country.
is a collection of interviews with 20 people who were well-acquainted with one of the most significant figures in 1990s Russia.
Gaidar's Revolution: The Inside Account of the Economic Transformation of Russia —
Vremya Berezovskogo (The Time of Berezovsky) —
Petr Aven has published many scientific papers and articles on trade and economic development, as well as two books on the formation of the new Russia after the collapse of the USSR. Aven has given lectures at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow since 2007.
How did the Soviet Union collapse? Was it possible to avoid the default and what did the anti-alcohol campaign in the USSR have to do with it? You can find the answers to these questions and many others in the documentary The Death of the Empire, featuring witnesses of the events.