Summer Auction Results

The results of the Russian auctions earlier this month were in line with predictions for a year of economic decline. Total sales between all of the auction houses came to $48 million, less than half of last summer’s $105, but within pre-sale estimates. Falling oil prices and a weak ruble meant Russians were timid this year, though a number of Ukrainians made big purchases. Alina Aivazova, the wife of Kiev’s mayor, set records for artists Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and Ilya Repin, buying works for $1.8 million and $2.3 million respectively. Alexandre and Sergei Tabalov, owners of the Art Kapital auction house in Kiev were also reported to have been “active bidders*”. The top lot at auction was Boris Kustodiev’s “The Village Fair” sold for $4.5 million, a record for the  artist, at Sotheby’s.  Contemporary works did poorly at the sales, but nearly seventy percent of lots in traditional categories found buyers. Overall, the June auctions have been declared a success within the standards of a weakened market.

William MacDougall (of MacDougall’s) said after the sales that, “Though it has not yet reached its peak of a year ago, the market is in recovery from its winter blues, and some better works are even surpassing their pre-crisis peaks.”

*For details see the Telegraph’s article on the sales

Art Fraud

Odalisque

A painting sold by Christie’s for $3 million as Boris Kustodiev’s Odalisque was recently identified as a fake. Odalisque, unfortunately, is just one of a large number of fakes infiltrating the Russian art market. James Butterwick, a Russian art dealer in London, told Bloomberg News, “Every month, I’m asked to look at 10 paintings, and nine are fakes. Many Russian collectors buy without asking competent experts. If a work is credible, then it has a provenance that can be easily checked out.” Thankfully, “The Catalog of Fraudulent Artworks,” a guide to 900 fakes, has been published by the Russian government. The fifth volume of the set, which contains 100 paintings, including Odalisque, was released last month.

For more information see Bloomberg’s recent article on the issue