An "anonymous British philanthropist" bought what we suppose is Mikhail Gorbachev's "debut album", Songs for Raisa, in London this week, bidding $164,940 (about £100,000) at an auction to benefit the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. Nearly 350 luminaries were present at the private event, including Gordon Bown's wife, Sarah, London mayor Boris Johnson, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, actor Vanessa Redgrave and Russian ambassador Yuri Fedotov, according to the newspaper Pravda.
Gorbachev was there too, and he brought his singing voice. The former Soviet leader warbled a song called Old Letters. "The performance ... was greeted with delight and a storm of applause," said Pavel Palazhchenko, chairman of the Foundation's press service. You can judge for yourself by listening to Old Letters.
Like the rest of the tracks on Songs for Raisa, Old Letters is an old Russian romantic ballad. Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, died 10 years ago. The foundation established in her name is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.
"The disc includes seven of Raisa's favorite romantic songs," Gorbachev explained in a press conference. "I sang them myself, with Andrei Makarevich playing the background music." Makarevich is one of Russia's biggest rock stars, frontman of the band Mashina Vremeni.
Though only one copy of the album is said to exist, Russian fans are counting on the buyer's "musical" philanthropy – and that the album will be posted to filesharing networks forthwith.
I don't know why, but I think this is kind've cool. It has that air of being one of those strange collectables that will feature in stories, years from now, as odd treasures that burnt out detectives are hired to find, without truly knowing the significance of them.
Or, perhaps, that's just me.