Russian Sales at Sotheby’s

N. Roerich. Lao-tzu. Tempera on canvas. 73,7 И 115,5 cm. Estimate $200,000–300,000. Sold for $2,200,000.

Sotheby’s regular Russian auction took place on April 26–28 in New York. The important sales totaled stunning $54,372,560 (let us compare this result with $15,000,000 fetched by the recent Christie’s two-day Russian auction).

The Sotheby’s collection featured not only classic Russian art of XIX century but works by contemporary Russian artists as well. In 1988, the auction house held the famous sales of Russian art in Moscow, which made many young Moscow artist popular and their works sough-after at the world art market.

Money realized from sale of a number of lots in the section of Russian modern art went to benefit the National clinical infectious hospital in Ust-Izhora near St. Petersburg and social adaptation of its young patients.

K. Korovin. The Artist’s Workshop in Gursuf. 1914. Oil on canvas. 116,8 И 87,4 cm. Estimate $400,000–600,000. Sold for $1,696,000.

The star of the event was a painting «Lao-tzu» by an outstanding Russian artist Nikolai Roerich. The canvas made staggering $2,200,000 setting a new world record for a Roerich’s painting ever sold at public auction. Moreover, the hammer price for the work exceeded its pre-sale estimate more than ten times ($200,000–300,000). Interestingly, the previous record for the artist’s work was set two days earlier at the New York Christie’s sales. Then an anonymous collector paid $856,000 for Roerich’s picture «Tsong Ha Pa».

«Lao-tzu», «Tsong Ha Pa» as well as a painting «Confucius the Just» relate to a Roerich’s series «Oriental Banners». The latter work was sold at Sotheby’s for $1,248,000 (estimate $200,000–300,000).

Other highlights included a tempera painting «Kabuki Dancer» by Alexander Yakovlev (estimate $150,000–200,000, sold for impressive $1,808,000); a 1914 oil on canvas «The Artist’s Workshop in Gursuf» by Konstantin Korovin (came from the collection of Fedor Shalyapin, estimate $400,000–600,000, sold for $1,696,000); «Nevsky Prospect» by Petr Vereschagin (estimate $120,000–180,000, sold for $1,472,000); Portrait of a Man in a Red Tie by Robert Falk (estimate $800,000–1,200,000, sold for $940,000).

R. Falk. Portrait of a Man in a Red Tie. Oil on canvas. 135,4 И 84,0 cm. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000. Sold for $940,000.

Unfortunately, several lots failed to do well at the auction. A landscape «Olive Grove» by Petr Konchalovsky ($2,500,000–3,500,000), «Lovers» by Konstantin Somov (estimate $800,000–1,200,000) and a ceremonial portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna by Boris Kustodiev (estimate $700,000–800,000) remained unsold.

A silver tea and coffee set (34 pieces) produced by a Moscow-based firm of Ovchinnikov fetched the highest price in the section of applied and decorative art. Estimated at $500,000–800,000 the lot was purchased for $1,808,000.


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