Russian Art Week wrapped up in New York last Friday very successfully. Christie’s sold 69% of it’s 390 lots for a total of $13.2 million, just over it’s high estimate of $13 million. The top lot at the auction, Svetoslav Roerich’s Portrait of Nicholas Roerich in a Tibetan Robe sold for $2,994,500 nearly three times its high estimate of $1.1 million. The sale broke the previous record for the artist, set earlier in the week at Sotheby’s sale. The success of the sale is in part the result of reformed expectations. After a disappointing turnout at November’s auction, Christie’s, “had to readjust,” said the head of Christie’s Russian department, Alexis de Tiesenhausen, “The estimates now are about 20 percent less than in November.”
Sotheby’s held their sale before Christie’s on Wednesday. About 65 % of their 308 lots sold for a total of $13.8 million, within their estimates for the auction. The top lot was Ivan Aivazovsky’s Columbus Sailing from Palos, which sold for $1,594,000 million, well over its high estimate of $1.1 million. Svetoslav Roerich’s Three Boddisatvas sold for $262,500, more than triple it’s estimate. In fact, all but one of the ten top lots exceeded their estimates.
Sotheby’s Sonya Bekkerman and Gerard Hill called the sale, “the first test of the season,” and expressed optimism about Sotheby’s performance: “If you consider these results alongside the more than $12 million we achieved for Russian works in last November’s Impressionist and Modern sales in New York, and the nearly $38 million brought in in London in December, it’s clear that the market for Russian art remains buoyant.”