The Discreet Charms of the Russian Bourgeoisie
A good reminder of the effect Russian commodities wealth is having on the luxury market comes from the Daily Mail:
Seven of the world’s 25 richest people. Some 87 billionaires. The highest concentration of billionaires in its capital city. ( . . . ) Its new uber-rich aristocracy has been carving out its own dynasties, buying up multi-million pound properties (a mystery Russian buyer reportedly stumped up £397 million for a Cote d’Azur castle this month) football clubs and priceless art masterpieces.
The Mail goes on to relate how Russians have begun to take over the UK’s fashion world with The Face, Dasha Zhukova, at the center of that trend too. The Times of London, reporting on the purchase of Villa Leopolda for more than $500 million, underscores the excess of the new Russian haute bourgeoisie:
Russian excess is feeding discontent among poorer people. Pierrette, a housekeeper for one Russian, said: “I attended a party where the guests had fun throwing burning €500 notes into the air while everyone split their sides laughing. The domestic staff were later told to collect the ashes. It was sickening.”
With that kind of consumption in mind, we should find the prices Russian buyers are paying for art to be sober and conservative.
But Not Every Rich Person is Russian
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the IRS counts 79,000 persons in the US worth between $10 and $20 million. But that’s not all:
About 47,000 people had a net worth of $20 million or more in 2004, the latest available year, according to new estimates by the Internal Revenue Service. While that was up only slightly from 46,000 in 2001, it was up 62% from 29,000 in 1998.
Which Hasn’t Been Lost on the Dealers
This Monet is for sale at Richard Green gallery for $11.1 million or nearly double the price it last made at auction. The reason? The flurry of strong Monet sales, of course. Bloomberg has the story:
“La Seine a Vetheuil,” a 3-foot-4-inch-wide evening scene of poplars reflected in the Seine, has been bought back from an Irish collector, who had previously acquired it from Green, said the release. The picture last appeared at auction in February 2006 at Christie’s, London, where it sold for 2.7 million pounds with fees, according to the saleroom result tracker Artnet. In June 1995 it sold at Sotheby’s, London, for 1.25 million pounds with fees, said Artnet.
And from whom does the gallery expect to receive such a handsome price?
“We have seen a few Russians in the gallery,” said Green. “We’ve also seen a resurgence from America with the strengthening of the dollar.”