Imperial and Royal sales yesterday inaugurated the winter sales at the Hôtel des Ventes de Genève
. At the start of the evening, souvenirs from the personal collection of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain were sold for CHF 180,600, while the special Russia collection achieved a total price of CHF 1.3 million, with more than 90 % of the lots sold. The four letters by Tsar Nicholas II from the collection of H.I.H. Prince Nicolas Romanov were the highlight of this sale. They were purchased for a price of CHF 120,000, compared with an estimate of CHF 9,000-14,000. Each of these letters established a world record for letters by Tsar Nicolas II. The buyer of these letters, of a large number of imperial photographs and of Grand Duke Nicholas helmet is a Russian collector based in Monaco who is keen on history. Bernard Piguet, director and chief auctioneer of the HDV Geneva, said: « We are delighted with this result, which clearly shows that the HDV has established an international reputation thanks to the quality of the unprecedented and rare collections that have been entrusted to it. We should also point out that the success of this third special high-level Russia sale (following the Thormeyer Collection in December 2011, and the Lifar Collection in March 2012) means that the Hôtel des Ventes is now an indispensable specialist in the sale of Russian art. »
The 4 letters written by Tsar Nicholas II are major historical documents that not only show Russia 's involvement in the First World War but also the Tsars deep concern for the well-being of his army. They also highlight the close links between the Tsar and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolayevich, even after the latter was dismissed from his post as supreme comander of the Imperial Armies.
H.I.H. Prince Nicolas Romanov said: « An outstanding result is always satisfying but it gives me great pleasure to know that these documents have been purchased by a single bidder who is keen on history. The fact that he is Russian makes it doubly satisfying. These auctions have been perfectly organised by Bernard Piguet and I am very pleased to have entrusted to him with the sale. »
The campaign helmet of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolayevich Romanov, supreme commander of the Imperial armies, was the object of a fierce bidding war between bidders present in the auction room and Russian bidders via telephone. It was finally sold for CHF 26,700, compared to an original estimate of CHF 500 (lot 244).
The military decoration of the Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky, which was on the cover of the catalogue, attracted strong interest from collectors and its price reached CHF 79,000 (lot 136, est. CHF 10,000-15,000). It came from a highly prestigious origin, being part of the private collection of the former Queen of Spain. Other objects in this collection also aroused considerable interest. The queens fan decorated with the royal monogram in diamonds, rubies and emeralds changed hands for CHF 4,800 (lot 49, est. CHF 3,000-5,000), while the Star of the Order of the Precious Crown, an extremely rare decoration from the Japanese Empire, fetched a price of CHF 48,600 (lot 69, est. CHF 8,000-12,000).
Other notable Russian items that came under the hammer were three pieces of Fabergé silverware sold for 80,300 and an enamel tea service by goldsmith Pavel Ovchinnikov, sold for CHF 48,600 (lot 181, est. CHF 15,000-20,000).
Excellent results were also achieved for works by Sapunov (lot 116, est. CHF 10,000-15,000), Korovin (lot 107, est. CHF 10,000-15,000) and Nikitin (lot 97, est. 5,000-8,000) which were sold for CHF 91,200, CHF 85,000 and CHF 68,800 respectively.