Bloomberg takes a close look at London’s Russian art week that lies just over the horizon. Of course, they pitch the story as the first test of the Russian market since the collapse of the commodity economy.
There are four major sales–Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonham’s–plus one house that only sells Russian art:
MacDougall Arts Ltd. has the most ambitious lineup. Its total estimate for the week is 21 million pounds to 33 million pounds. That’s more than the estimates at Christie’s International and Sotheby’s, which is the Russian art-market leader in total annual sales.
MacDougall’s head makes a case for why Russians would spend money on art. He’s not alone. Others have pointed out that Russians are acutely accustomed to expropriation and loss. That puts a greater emphasis on objects of value, especially works of art.
“Many Russians still have large amounts of money they need to invest,” said William MacDougall, director of the auction house. “Would they choose stocks or bonds? Even bank accounts now look risky. Paintings do not go into default.”
Others make a brave case that Russian collectors are doing better than their counterparts in the west:
“Russian collectors have not been so hard hit by the financial crisis as collectors in the West,” the Russian National Museum, a private gallery headed by Moscow collector, Alexander Ivanov, said in a statement.
All will be revealed next week but pay close attention to the fate of Goncharova (above, left) at Christie’s and the Imperial works of art at Sotheby’s. Like the Chinese, Russian buyers love anything with an connection to their Imperial past. Also, just for fun, here’s Mikhail Larionov’s Reclining Nude, one of the highlights at Sotheby’s.