LONDON, ENGLAND.- Sothebys biannual Russian Sale in London today realised £20,185,040 ($39,136,774), well in excess of its pre-sale low estimate of £16.5 million. The sale was extremely well-attended and attracted more than 230 international buyers who registered to bid in person and on the telephones. The sum achieved for todays auction brings the combined total for sales of Russian art at Sothebys worldwide so far this year to £80,067,778 ($148,895,702) £23.7 million more than the annual turnover for Russian sales at Sothebys worldwide last year, itself the highest total for a single year. Sales continue on Thursday.
Commenting on the sale, Jo Vickery, Head of Sothebys Russian department, said: We are delighted with todays sale in which we witnessed very solid bidding on major lots in both the paintings and works of art sessions. The combined figure for global sales thus far in 2006 provides compelling evidence that the market this year has been even more buoyant than in 2005, with even further growth evidenced at the top end. Buyers are clearly looking for pieces of superior quality and rarity with good provenance and are prepared to bid extremely competitively to acquire such works. More than half of the lots which we sold today fetched in excess of their pre-sale estimate which is an extremely encouraging indication of the continuing strength of this market. In the established areas of the paintings market we produced six auction records and in the contemporary section we saw four more achieved.
The top selling lot in todays sale and the highlight of the works of art session this afternoon, was a pair of Imperial porcelain vases from the period of Nicholas I, dated 1830, which was competed for by three determined bidders. After several tense minutes of bidding the saleroom filled with applause when the vases finally sold for £2,248,000 to an anonymous buyer on the telephone.
The highest price paid in this mornings pictures session, which also represents the second highest price achieved in the entire sale, was for a masterpiece of late Mir Iskusstva art, Three Women in a Box at the Theatre by Alexander Evgenievich Yakovlev (1887-1938). The oil on canvas, painted in 1918, attracted strong competition and finally sold to a private Russian buyer for £1,016,000, almost three times its pre-sale high estimate of £350,000, achieving a record for the artist at auction.
From a private American collection Zinaida Evgenievna Serebriakovas (1884-1967) Reclining Nude was also highly sought-after. Bidding began in the saleroom and rapidly moved to the telephone banks where a battle between three telephone bidders ensued, driving the final price paid to £881,600, also a record for the artist at auction. Records were also achieved for Matiros Sergeevich Saryan (1880-1972), whose Street at Evening sold for £388,800 and for Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky (1846-1920), whose Rest on the Way from Kiev brought £624,000 exceeding the existing record for the artist by more than $790,000. Combined, the contemporary pictures (lots 155-177) in this mornings session realised a total of £600,000 and a group of soviet porcelain plates (lots 115-131) from a private Australian collection brought £312,600 more than two times its pre-sale low estimate of £130,000 with only two lots remaining unsold.
In the works of art session the highest price paid for a piece of Fabergé was for an important and rare gold, diamond and guilloche enamel Imperial presentation snuff box, which came from a private American collection (lots 269-273) and sold for £926,400. The entire collection achieved a combined total of £3,406,260, £1.2 million more than its pre-sale low estimate.