Colin Gleadell narrates the vacant Russian Week sales in London where the numbers were a shadow of former times. Overall supply of pictures was down 40%, according to Gleadell’s calculations. Of those works on offer, only 50% found buyers to total £21m across four auction houses. That’s an £80m drop from the market’s peak in 2007:
At Christie’s, for instance, billionaire Georgian businessman, Bidzina Ivanishvili, picked up the top lot, a 1907 painting of the Arsenal Hill by Georgian artist, Nico Pirosmani, with a bid of £800,000, against minimal competition. Five years ago it had cost the seller £1.6 million. Fabergé Museum owner, Alexander Ivanov, also found competition less heated than in the past was able to snap up over 20 items of Fabergé for around £500,000.
The biggest Russian art surprise of the week took place at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury where two paintings described as French School, and estimated at £400 and £600, sold for £25,700 each. London dealer Julian Hartnoll was one of the posse of bidders who had recognised the style and the phallic monogram as that of Russian artist, Nicolas Kalmakoff, whose symbolist paintings he had exhibited in 1970. Kalmakoff’s paintings normally appear in Russian art sales where the best have made as much as £330,000.
Market News: Russian art out in the cold (Telegraph)