Colin Gleadell‘s art market column in the Telegraph contains this parable of the transformative effects of money on cultural authority:
Russian artist Vladimir Yankilevsky, who was one of the artists selected by Sotheby’s for its historic sale of Russian contemporary art in Moscow in 1988, has spoken about the experience on the eve of his first exhibition in the UK, which opens tomorrow at the Mall Galleries. Everyone in the West was led to believe that the sale epitomised the spirit of Glasnost, and that the revelatory prices fetched from collectors such as Elton John, Alfred Taubman and Sammy Ofer would have a liberating effect, signalling the entrance of a new generation of artists into the international market. But Yankilevsky says that the sale was “a catastrophe”. “Before the sale,” he tells me, “there was an accepted hierarchy among the artists based on the quality of the art we produced. Sotheby’s changed that, but not in the way we expected. The hierarchy was reversed according to price and the tastes of Western collectors.” Nonetheless, his work sold, and prices in this exhibition range from €10,000 (£8,800) to €200,000. Few works by him have appeared at auction, but the record was set at Phillips de Pury & Co in 2008, when a painting from 1970, estimated at £8,000 to £12,000, sold for £66,500.
Market News (Telegraph)