Tibetan paintings top lackluster Russia art sales

Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:31pm EDT
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Father and son's paintings of Tibet topped Russian art sales Friday but overall prices faltered, Christie's auction house said.

This week's sales at Christie's and Sotheby's marked the first 2009 test of the appetite for Russian art. Collectively, they brought in $27 million compared to last year's New York sales of $64 million.

"Portrait of Nicholas Roerich in a Tibetan Robe," by Svetoslav Roerich was the top seller at $2.9 million. Sold at Christie's, it set a record price for the artist.

"The sale is a testament to how robust the Russian art market is, and we are especially pleased with the auction record set for Svetoslav Roerich," said Christie's Russian art chief James Hastie.

"The Greatest and Holiest of Tangla," a landscape of a snowcapped Tibetan mountain range, by Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav's father, was the second biggest seller, fetching $1.4 million.

The elder Roerich began living in Tibet in the 1920s, and he founded the Agni Yoga Society, a non-profit education institution.

Christie's auction brought in $13.2 million, with 69 percent of the 390 lots sold.

On Wednesday, Sotheby's sale of Russian art sold $13.8 million, barely a quarter of the $46.5 million at last year's event.   Continued...

<p>"Portrait of Nicholas Roerich in a Tibetan Robe," by Svetoslav Roerich is seen in this undated handout photo. It sold for $2.9 million at Christie's in New York on April 24, 2009, setting a world auction record for the artist. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>