Hard Russian sales

N. Kasatkin. Portal. 1932. Oil on canvas. Estimate £15 000−20 000. Christie’s. Russian Pictures Incl. Post-War & Contemporary Art Part II. London, November 26

For a week prior to the beginning of Russian week held in London from November 24 – 27, Christie’s cut down the catalogue of painting of the 19th–20th centuries. According to the head of the Christie’s international department of Russian Art Alex Tithengauzen, the auction house put off the sales over 20 lots in middle price category having taken only the most qualitative (expensive) works. ”Nobody want to buy average works by Russian artists”, – the expert comments on a situation.

We see a new economic policy literally gained by the auction house: a line of failures pursued the antiquarian market from the first day of collapse of stock exchanges. The average price segment turned out of less demand in the conditions of crisis while the top lots from the investment point of view continue to show rather high sales. Reducing the number of “averages” works Christie’s solves some problems at once. On the one hand, it will allow the auction house to avoid loss of money on guarantees, and with another –“to tighten up” the statistics of sales which are one of the basic signs of market stability.

Auctioneer pays also attention to issues of pricing. Alex Tithengauzen is convinced that during a period of crisis it is important to be fair in estimate, “not to overestimate it” and “not to forget that the buyer makes the market not the auction”. Taking into account these amendments the head of the department of Russian art expresses his confidence in a future of the most “interesting and qualitative lots”.

One of such lots is Natalia Goncharova’s canvas Still-Life with Water-Melons estimated at £1 500 000–2 000 000. Tithengauzen also marks out the Konstantin Somov’s canvas The Open Door with a View on Garden (£500 000-700 000), Alexey Kharlamov’s picture Bouquet Arranging (£700 000-900 000), Self-Portrait by Vladimir Baranov-Rossine (£450 000-650 000) and some other works.

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