Bloomberg‘s John Varoli records the Russian art dealers as they declare victory and beat a hasty retreat from sales that have risen from their low point in June but still not recovered broad-based strength.
“The week’s results confirm the market’s recovery,” said William MacDougall, co-director of MacDougall’s. “Oil prices have gone up, economies are picking up, and people again have money to spend and need to put it somewhere.”
That somewhere was mostly items with an Imperial provenance rather than paintings. Strong sales for works of art couldn’t cover for weak sales of art works and numbers that came in below low estimates:
Sotheby’s had the highest total. It sold 19.4 million pounds of Imperial heirlooms, Faberge items and 19th-century and 20th-century paintings. The U.S.-based company sold 74 percent of 540 lots that had a top presale estimate of 21.2 million pounds.
MacDougall’s, which specializes in Russian art, finished second, selling 9.4 million pounds of paintings and icons that had a low estimate of 12.5 million pounds. Christie’s sold 70 percent of 570 lots for 8.9 million pounds, below a top estimate of 9.3 million pounds. Bonhams sold 1.9 million pounds of Russian paintings.
“The market has two locations and realities,” said Ildar Galeyev, owner of Galeyev Gallery in Moscow. “There’s the Moscow market, where we don’t see signs of recovery since the crisis began. Then there’s London where we see the market growing. Russians prefer to buy in London for a number of reasons, for instance, they have more trust in the major auction houses.”