Results of Russian Art Week June 2014

Jun 26th, 2014 | By | Category: Journal


Russian Art Week June 2014 Results

Kazimir Malevich, 'Head of a Peasant,' Sotheby's pounds 2,098,500.

Kazimir Malevich, ‘Head of a Peasant,’ Sotheby’s pounds 2,098,500.

With Russian art week over the art market is sliding into its usual summer torpor in which it will stay until the early autumn.  Clients head for their yachts and villas and art world professionals take off on holiday and hatch plans for the autumn.   As predicted problems in Ukraine turned out to have little impact on auction results although the auction houses had to cancel their usual Moscow previews due to insurance issues.  In fact, the estimated $60bn of capital flight out of Russia in the first quarter 2014 may actually have helped the art market with some of it being used to fund art acquisitions.

All the usual suspects showed up in London and results were strong for anything good.  However, the market is becoming more polarised and similar to the Western Art Market…ie there is the Best and then there’s the Rest.  The Rest did not do so well but anything perceived to be exceptional attracted strong bidding.

Matter’s kicked off at Christie’s with a brisk start.  Vasily Vereshchagin’s ‘The Pearl Mosque at Agra’ made $6,137,721 and the portraits by Vladimir Borovikovsky made astonishing prices including $5,012,793 paid for an aristocratic family group.

Sotheby’s evening sale followed later that day with strong results for a group of Avant Garde works sourced from a German private collection.  Seven different buyers bought the 11 works for pounds 11.5m.  The top price was for Malevich’s strange head of a peasant which went for pounds 2.1m.

A group of paintings followed from the Russian Artists Union with mixed results which probably resulted from the fact that the items had been extensively marketed by the Union in Moscow prior to the sale and that the estimates were overcooked, particularly on the star lot of the group, a very late Deinika of 1966, ‘The Young Designer.’  This was estimated at the enormous price of  pounds 2 – 3m and failed to attract a bid.  Although a well known work and illustrated in countless books on Deinika, if collectors are going to pay this sort of money they want a work from Deinika’s more important earlier periods (i.e. 1930’2 and 40’s).

Vladimir Stozharov’s superb 1965 ‘Passage of the first Motorboat’ fetched pounds 410,000 and George Nissky’s atmospheric 1964 ‘Over Snowy Fields’ made pounds 1.76m.  The 37 lot sale ended a respectable 73% sold by lot bringing a total of pounds 18.3m and a first day combined Christies/Sotheby’s total of pounds 43.2m showing that all is dandy in the Russian art market for now.

Sotheby’s day sale passed off okay with most of the major lots selling and the Wednesday wrapped up the sales with auctions at MacDougall’s and Bonham’s totalling pounds 16.5m.  MacDougall’s made pounds 10.3m with top lots being Pavel Kuznetsov’s Eastern City-Bukhara at pounds 2.37m and Robert Falk’s Boy with a Cap at pounds 1.04m.  Lesser lots at MacDougall’s, as with the other auction rooms, attracted very little buyer interest.  Bonham’s who declared a profit of pounds 25m last year is reputedly up for sale with various potential suitors, including a Chinese bidder, showing some interest.

The Ukrainian situation looks like it is improving with Russian companies again gaining access to international capital markets.  Putin clearly doesn’t want to invade and take over Ukraine’s enormous debts when it is much better to let the European Union foot the bill.  But if his hand is forced and Russia ends up invading then clearly all bets are off in the Russian art market.

Tags: Deinika The Young Designer, Russian art market., Russian Art Week June 2014, Russian Artists Union, Sotheby's Russian art sales, Ukranian situation affects Russian Art Market, Vladimir Stozharov Passage of the First Motorboat

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