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Sales of Russian Art at Sotheby's Total $14.4 Million, Important Russian Enamels and Fabergé Sold
People stand near the Alexei Bogoliubov painting 'On the Eve of the Celebration, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice'. EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s autumn 2010 auctions of Russian Art in New York brought a total of $14,397,064. The day began with an inaugural sale of Important Russian Paintings that achieved $10.6 million and set several new auction records. The highlight of the sale was a monumental canvas by the Socialist Realist painter Yuri Pimenov that sold for $1,538,500, more than double the high estimate and a record
for the artist at auction. The paintings auction was followed by a sale of Important Russian Enamels and Fabergé from a New York Private Collection that brought $3.8 million, led by a Fine and Massive Russian Gilded Silver and Shaded Enamel Large Wedding Kovsh, retailed by Ovchinnikov, Moscow, circa 1900 that sold for $518,500, well above the presale estimate (est. $200/300,000).

Important Russian Art
The sale of Important Russian Art brought a total of $10,586,500, within the presale estimate of $8.7/12.6 million. Competition was fierce for many of the top lots, with multiple bidders participating. This resulted in more than 95% of the sold lots achieving prices at or above their pre-sale estimates.

Discussing the sale, Sonya Bekkerman, Head of Russian Paintings at Sotheby’s New York, said: “We are very encouraged by the positive reaction to the numerous opportunities presented in today’s sale, which was reflected in the depth of bidding on many of our record-breaking works. We were thrilled to be offering our sale of Important Russian Art alongside the major sales of Impressionist and Modern Art, and delighted to see some of those same clients bidding today.”

In addition to Pimenov, a new auction record was set for Aleksey Kravchenko when his Indian Fairytale sold for $1,482,500. The iconic masterpiece was completed after the artist’s return from a voyage to India and Sri Lanka in 1913, and stands as the most important work by the artist ever to appear at auction. One of the most exciting moments in today’s sale was when Victor Efimovich Popkov’s A Family in July came onto the auction block (est. $200/300,000). As soon as the auctioneer opened the bidding, four different clients entered the fray. Eventually, it came down to a battle between two determined telephone bidders–one of whom jumped the increments from $470,000 to $600,000 in an effort to dissuade their competitor. The tactic worked, and that bidder finally won the painting for a remarkable $872,500, a new record for the artist at auction.

Following the success of the Collection of Ruth Ford & Charles Henri Ford in Sotheby’s April 2010 sale of Russian Art in New York, which saw a new auction record for Pavel Tchelitchew, Sotheby’s was privileged to offer further works from the distinguished collection in today’s sale. Bidding was once again furious for the Tchelitchews, driving many prices to multiples of their high estimates. Leading the group was a Portrait of Charles Henri Ford with Pitcher from 1933, executed two years after Ford and Tchelitchew first met in Paris, which sold for $374,500 (est. $150/200,000). Black Grapes, a charming still life by the artist, brought a remarkable $242,500, more than four times the high estimate of $60,000.

In addition to the works from the Ford Collection, another offering from an important private collection also inspired competition. A group of exquisite paintings from the Collection of Gordon P. Getty was highlighted by Konstantin Yuon’s Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra in Winter, which sold for $872,500, more than double the high estimate of $350,000.

Other highlights from this morning’s sale included Alexandre Iacovleff’s Un Groupe de Lamas, a monumental work representing a group of lamas at Pei Ling Miao lamasery, which the artist encountered during the second of the Citroën expeditions, La Croisière Jaune in 1932, which sold for $782,500 (est. $500/700,000); Nicholas Roerich’s The Song of the Waterfall, which was sought-after by four different bidders and sold for $386,500 (est. $120/180,000); and David Burliuk’s lyrical Japan and America which brought $374,500, well above the presale high estimate of $200,000.

Important Russian Enamels and Fabergé from a New York Private Collection
The single-owner sale of Important Russian Enamels and Fabergé from a New York Private Collection achieved $3,810,564, well in excess of the presale estimate of $1.7/2.5 million, and saw spirited bidding in the room, by phone and online. The sale was 97.7% sold by value and 90.4% by lot, a reflection of both the rarity and quality of the works on offer.

Karen Kettering and Gerard Hill, experts in Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art Department, commented: “Today we saw remarkable results for both the enamels and Fabergé on offer, which reflect the high quality of objects from both categories represented by this wonderful collection. The works were fresh to the market and assembled with a high level of connoisseurship that reflect the discerning eye of their collectors. Our top pieces were dispersed among buyers from Russian, Europe and America, and we are especially encouraged by the number of works that sold for multiples of their high estimates. The sale benefitted from the large volume of clients visiting the building during the week of our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, many of whom visited the exhibition.”

The top lot of the sale was A Fine and Massive Russian Gilded Silver and Shaded Enamel Large Wedding Kovsh, retailed by Ovchinnikov, Moscow, circa 1900, which sold for $518,500 against a high estimate of $300,000. The magnificent and rare kovsh by Feodor Rückert saw lively bidding both on the phones and in the room, with the eventual buyer entering the competition at $320,000. Several other important kovshs performed extremely well: A Russian Gilded Silver and Shaded Enamel Pictorial Kovsh, Moscow, circa 1900, another rare kovsh by Rückert, nearly tripled its high estimate to sell for $254,500, while A Rare Fabergé Gilded Silver and Matt Enamel Bird-Shaped Kovsh, Moscow, circa 1900 more than tripled its high estimate to sell for $242,500.

Fierce competition between three bidders in the auction room drove A Russian Gilded Silver and Enamel Icon Triptych to sell for $158,500, more than triple its high estimate. Of the wonderful and unique collection of parasol and cane handles, A Fabergé Imperial Purpurine, Gold and Enamel Parasol Handle was the top performer, soaring more than six times past its high estimate to achieve $134,500. The work was originally purchased by Empress Alexandra Fedorovna in 1896 and features a finial made of purpurine, a matt red glass which is extremely difficult to produce.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Sotheby's | Russian Art | Sonya Bekkerman |

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