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Sothebys April 2008 Sale of Russian Art in New York Totals $46,449,401
AES+F, Last Riot, Panorama #4, AES+F 67 x 100 in.

NEW YORK.- Sotheby’s two-day sale of Russian Art in New York totaled $46,449,401 (est. $41/57 million), with strong prices realized across the wide variety of works on offer -- 19th and 20th Century and Contemporary Russian paintings as well as a broad selection of Works of Art. Highlighting the morning session of 19th and 20th Century Paintings was Arkhip Kuindzi’s Birch Grove, which sold for $3,065,000 (est. $2/3 million), the sale’s overall top price and a record for the artist at auction. The top lot from the afternoon session dedicated to Post War and Contemporary Art was Ilya Kabakov’s Complete Album Flying Komarov Containing 32 Original Drawings, which sold for $445,000, far exceeding its estimate ($200/250,000). The Works of Art session was galvanized by an extended bidding war over a Fine and Rare Fabergé Icon of Christ Pantocrator (est. $100/150,000) which finally sold, to rousing applause, for $780,000 to a bidder on the phone.

19th and 20th Century Paintings

In addition to the record-breaking Kuindzhi, the first session also featured three masterpieces by Ivan Aivazovsky, Distributing Supplies and The Relief Ship (est. $2/3 million) which sold as a pair for $2,393,000 to fine arts agent Joseph Friedman on behalf of a private collector, and The Arrival of Columbus’ Flotilla (est. $1.25/2 million) which went for $1,665,000. Also far exceeding expectations were Vasili Dmitrievich Polenov’s The River Oyat, which soared past its high estimate of $800,000 to sell for $1,385,000, Alexei Petrovich Bogoliubov’s View of Venice, Customs House which brought $1,049,000 (est. $700/900,000) and Ivan Shishkin’s Forest Landscape which went for $847,400 (est. $600/800,000). Nicholas Roerich’s Pueblo in Santa Fe sold for $713,000 (est. $600/800,000), and each of the other eight Roerich works in the sale achieved prices far above their high estimates, most notably Ladakh (est. $15/20,000) which ultimately went for $157,000. Alexandre Iacovleff’s rediscovered masterpiece Under a Kirghiz Tent, which carried an estimate of $600/800,000, brought $713,000. Additional artist records were set for Nikolai Rachkov, Mané-Katz, Ernst von Liphart, Dmitri Nalbandian, Viktor Baturin and Feodor P. Tolstoy.

Post War and Contemporary Art

The first New York session dedicated to Post War and Contemporary Russian Art saw many works demanding strong prices. Early in the sale, Oscar Rabin’s City with Moon (Socialist City) sold for $337,000 (est. $120/160,000), setting a new record for the artist at auction. Komar and Melamid’s triptych Composition with Missiles (Landscape Inspired by Rothko) brought $289,000 (est. $120/150,000) and Evgeny Rukhin’s Da Nyet went for $265,000 (est. $60/80,000) also establishing a record for the artist at auction. Both of Semen Faibisovich’s photographs brought prices well over their estimates when Therein Lies the Question sold for $193,000 and On the Platform from the Cycle Moscow Commuter Train achieved $169,000 (both est. $100/120,000). In addition to those mentioned above, records were also set for Leonid Sokov (for a painting), Tatiana Nazarenko, Elena Keller, Anatoly Kaplan, Rikhard Vasmi, Igor Chelkovski and Alla Esipovich.

Works of Art

Concluding the two-day sale, the Works of Art section showcased a vibrant and growing interest in icons and bronzes. Every one of the 32 icons on offer sold, with 26 going for well over their high estimates. Immediately following the top-selling Fabergé Christ Pantocrator that led the session, Olga Nicholaevna: A Gilded Silver and Enamel Icon Triptych with Imperial connections brought $409,000 (est. $100/150). Many icons brought final prices that were many multiples of the high estimate, such as an Icon of the Vladimir Mother of God (est. $9/12,000) that sold for $157,000 and Nicholas II: A Russian Icon of the Savior (est. $40/60,000) which went for $193,000. Leading the bronzes near the close of the sale was Matvei Chizhov’s Frolicsome Girl (est. $20/30,000) that brought an astounding $385,000.
Sotheby’s next sales of Russian Art will be held in London in June. The evening sale on June 9th will include important works by Natalia Goncharova, Konstantin Korovin and Zinaida Serebriakova, among others. The sale of Russian Works of Art and Fabergé on June 12th will feature an important jeweled badge of the Imperial Order of St Andrew, decoratively set with approximately 43 carats of diamonds.

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