Russian art sales "solid", but not spectacular

Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:51am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Russian art sales in London this week met expectations but failed to match dramatic recent rises in other sectors of the market, particularly impressionist, modern and old masters.

Sotheby's, Russian specialist auctioneer MacDougall's and Christie's all held twice-yearly sales this week, and, with one relatively minor auction to go at MacDougall's, the overall tally was nearly 43 million pounds ($63 million).

That was in line with pre-sale estimates and slightly higher than the previous series of sales in late 2009 but well short of levels seen as recently as 2008, the end of the boom in Russian art fueled largely by wealthy tycoons grabbing a piece of their country's heritage.

The ART Report's latest analysis of the sector estimates that last year, total sales of Russian fine art at Christie's, Sotheby's and MacDougall's fell 47 percent from about $159 million in 2008 to under $84 million in 2009.

Meanwhile records are tumbling in other areas of the market, with two works of art -- a Giacometti statue and a Picasso painting -- selling for more than $100 million each in 2010.


Sotheby's led the way this week, raising 22.3 million pounds versus expectations of over 19 million.

It boasted the top lot in London, with "Titi and Naranghe, Daughters of Chief Eki Bondo" by Alexander Yakovlev fetching 2.5 million pounds including buyer's premium versus a high estimate of 900,000 pounds, excluding premium.   Continued...