Dazzling success for the fourth Russian Art sale at Genevas Hôtel des Ventes
. Bidders from Europe, the United States and Russia gathered in the saleroom and busied the telephones all to take part in this exceptional auction presenting many objects of global importance. The total sale result surpassed CHF 3.8 million, constituting a record result for a Russian Art sale at Hôtel des Ventes.
It was in the midst of a full and captive saleroom that the fierce battle ensued between multiple bidders seated around the room and on the telephones resulting in 100% of the letters from Tsars Nicholas I, Alexander II and their families being sold for a total of CHF 743,000. Almost the entire collection of 230 letters was sold to a Swiss Russophile collector, the same person who acquired the majority of the photographs from the Thormeyer collection in 2011 and who has a connection to Russian museums. The atmosphere was electric in particular for lots 83 and 84 which sold for CHF 243,000 and CHF 170,000, establishing world records for letters from Tsar Nicholas I at more than CHF 12,000 per letter. A record was also set for three letters from Tsar Alexander II that sold for near CHF 16,000 (lot 76). The letters belonged to the widow of an American Captain who obtained them in Europe and brought them back after Second World War having been deployed there for The Stars and Stripes newspaper. The vendor selected Hôtel des Ventes in Geneva for the sale of this piece of Russian history after having consulted with other auction houses in New York, London and Paris.
The Russian works of art also attracted many international bidders. The exceptional pair of Imperial Porcelain Manufactory vases from Saint Petersburg was sold for CHF 1.58 million (lot 240). The vases were an imperial gift from Tsar Nicholas I to his sister-in-law Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna for Christmas in 1849. The provenance and authenticity were confirmed by the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Having remained in the same family for 210 years, the gold snuffbox by master maker Keibel of Saint Petersburg weighing 250g and set with 37 diamonds changed hands for CHF 522,000, setting a new world record for a Russian snuffbox from this period (lot 176). This unique box was given to Prince Comuto by Tsar Alexander I on 7th December 1803 for his appointment as Prince and Governor of the Septinsular Republic (Greece). The auction of these two spectacular pieces aroused great enthusiasm with the public who broke out in applause after the hammer fell on each lot.
Bernard Piguet, CEO and Chief Auctioneer at Hôtel des Ventes, is delighted with the results and underlines: « The auctioning of objects of such high quality that come from private collections and appear on the market for the first time always sparks off enormous excitement amongst collectors. It is not surprising they reached record sale prices as they were indeed exclusive and merited a certain level of attention ».
Lot 92 consisting of 33 photographs was withdrawn from the auction following a provisional judicial order from Geneva authorities after a request by the Russian Consulate. Their sale has been suspended until such time as the exact provenance can be established.