There’s a couple of interesting quotes in this AFP video about Christie’s Moscow road show of Impressionist and Modern works. One is the Russian off-handedly commenting that art from the best names rises 15-20% a year. He sees it as a safe place to park money.
The other is Christie’s Russia’s CEO, Matthew Stevenson, remarking that Russians “participate” in 8-10% of the company’s $5.7m. We should watch out for that “participate” because it isn’t really clear what Stevenson is actually saying. (Do they bid on 8-10% of the turnover or buy it?) Also, remember that the $5.7bn he cites includes a substantial amount of money paid in private sales which may over- or under-represent Russian buyers.
Nonetheless, if we follow Stevenson’s statement to its conclusion, Russians are spending $456-570m. Add Sotheby’s and Russian-owned Phillips de Pury, and you should be able to say that Russians bought $1b or more at auction.
If we take these numbers a little further, 8-10% of the global art market should be around $5bn spent each year by Russians.