Art Investment

"Russian week" in 2020, London: facts, figures and key findings

AI collected basic information at the end of the summer series of Russian sales in London

on 21 July, at Christie's, with the latest e-rate (the expression at the time was falling out of use the phrase "hammer blow"), completed the British part of the Russian trade of the summer series 2020. Before the start of the series, we suggested that the "Russian week" will be in all senses is unreliable. Will success — them write off to the hedonistic tired of collectors from the quarantine by misfortune — will meet her crisis. The result of the recent London auctions was that we didn't anticipate was the third reaction of the audience: many of our interlocutors, and a separate publication reported that "the market never left, he is alive and continues to evolve." Try to understand which of the opinions is closer to the truth.

so, in monetary terms, the three leading auction houses, traditionally associated with Russian art in the West, — Sotheby's, Christie's and MacDougall's — collected $16.68 million, the figure is 64% lower than fees in June 2019. It should be remembered that the summer "Russian auction" last season was very successful largely due to several high-profile sales (in particular, the sale of "still life with lilacs" by Kuzma Petrov-Водкина at Christie's auction for $11,76 million, which provided 25% of the total year turnover). Therefore, to compare the results of the current June — Jul all-таки correct from 2018-м. Against this background, the picture is more optimistic that the numbers this summer, "only" 46% lower than 2018-го.

Further, it should be understood that the "big four" this year, temporarily left Bonham's (4 % of the volume of sales by the end of 2019, but still), MacDougall's held electronic bidding is only the second attempt (the first time was a technical collapse on the platform-посреднике), and Christie's combined auction of Russian paintings and decorative-прикладным art in a single directory, significantly cutting the number of lots, and even held them a month later all the other auction houses. In other words, in addition to the economic recession, the "Russian week" in parallel, reeling through time and space. However, the proportion of lots sold — 60% this summer compared to 62% of summer 2019 — speaks about the quality work with collectors, with an objective reduction of purchasing power.

But — and this should be noted separately — the number of lots has declined only 21 % (not half, like at the evening auction of international art top-класса). It is no secret that the decline in the number of lots in quarantine many months is determined not only by economic and logistical constraints. And the auction house, after realizing the number of potential buyers, reluctant to take on the auction that cannot be delivered outside the country. What does this say in relation to Russian art, in addition to the "living and evolving market"? That most of the work at the end of trading received a British residence permit and remained in London. By the way, at the end of the June auction Sotheby's brought some interesting data: in particular, almost 20 % of consumers made a first purchase at the auctionthe auction, just over 30 % of buyers were aged 40 years or younger.

table 1. Sales of art during the summer of "Russian weeks" in the British auctions, 2017-2020


sales Volume, million $

All the lots, pieces

Soldon lots,



2017, June

29 760 300

1 087



2018, June

30 831 000

1 117



2019, June

46 349 700

1 175



2020, may — July

16 684 469




Dynamics of the 2017-2018, %

to 3.6




2018-2019 Dynamics, %


and 5.2



Dynamics 2019-2020, %





table 2. Sales of art during the summer of "Russian weeks" in auction houses, 2020

the auction house

net sales $ million

All the lots, pieces

Soldon lots,


















Total sales $ mn


the record Price of "Russian auction" went to Sotheby's: the work of Ivan Aivazovsky "the Bay of Naples," 1878, was sold for £2,295 million ($2.89 million) — is almost three times more expensive than the lower estimate. In the rating, taking into account the history of open auction sales by the artist, this figure has taken the second place. In General, the sale of four works of Aivazovsky provided Sotheby's 49.7 per cent of total revenue trades (£2,795 million). Need to identify and record the distance that some work has overcome on the way from the starting value to the hammer price. In particular, it concerns selections of four works of Vladimir Stozharova: a total of four landscape brought about £200 thousand While the final cost of some works exceeded the initial figures estimate more than 10 times. For example, "Autumn. Families" in 1956, while the estimate£6-8 thousand, was sold for £60 thousand Another incredible growth rates showed a "portrait of the actress O. S." in 1974, Igor K. Obrosova sold in 38-шагового bargain for £75 million, while the estimate of £5-7 thousand.

But one of the main hopes of trading — submitted to cover the landscape by Alexei Savrasov, "Views of Moscow", while the estimate £350-500 thousand, — has not justified itself: the landscape was unsold. As suggested by guests webinar AI, held at the end of "Russian auction", the bidders are inspired by the opportunity to have on the wall of a picturesque reflection of the phrase "Moscow — big village". The total cost of the 10 most expensive summer series "Russian weeks" — $5.21 million — is only 31% of the total sales of the three auction houses. Perhaps, this ratio can be called the most optimistic of the entire review: the collector of the specimen 2020 is not only ready to buy "stars", but also to create new "stars".

table 3. Top-10 sales of Russian artists during the "Russian weeks" in the British auctions, 2020

the Artist

the title of the work

auction house

the mean estimat (A), $ thousand

the Price including BP* (In), $ THD

Δ (Q:A) %


I. K. Aivazovsky

Bay of Naples

Sotheby's, London

2 266,50

2 897,90



I. K. Aivazovsky

a Ship passing in the night

Sotheby's, London





Arkhipov A. E.


Christie's, London





Rokhlin, V. N.

View Of Tiflis

Christie's, London





P. P. Konchalovsky

the Harvest

Sotheby's, London





K. A. Korovin

Eiffel tower at night

MacDougall's, London





P. P. Konchalovsky

Green oaks at dusk

Sotheby's, London





P. P. Konchalovsky

Indian summer

Sotheby's, London





Rozhdestvensky K. N.

a Girl without a passport

Sotheby's, London





I. I. Shishkin

the Bench in the shade

Sotheby's, London




Total sales $

5 121,25

* BP —Buyers Premium — Commission of the buyer.

Comment AI: Bonham's self-destructed from "Russian weeks", focusing on what she knows best, — to sell expensive whisky, jewellery and sports cars. MacDougall's unexpectedly showed very good sales of modern authors, while the majority of transactions took place online after-торгов in private (I remember a line from a song: "Though believe, though check..." — with the only difference that we believe willingly, and can not be verified in any way). Sotheby's safely left the two auction day — and not lost, but Christie's decided to play it safe, after bids in July. And it seems, has paid off: in early summer, we easily spent money, but closer to the middle I realized that all the money invested in eggs by Oksana Mas and Japanese sungu. And become more economical.

Interestingly, the current cold summer has not cooled the desire of lesser auction houses to work with Russian artists: seven European auctions — from Monaco to Copenhagen — held the auction, which included a combination of Russian Art in their own names (to them we will dedicate a separate article). Adding this to what was said in the review, summarize:

• the pandemic has not affected the desire of auction houses to engage in Russian art — at the level of enterprises of the departments either do their (temporary) closure. Accordingly, their employees not only feel but also see the market@the semicolon

• the pandemic has not affected the desire of collectors to buy Russian art — in the extent to which could affect. "Russian week" have practically identical data with international trading: the same percent reduction and the average value of lots in the background of several high-profile sales. Another thing is that top-лоты vary in numbers, but with that we are humbled before the crisis, isn't it?

• the pandemic a little stirred up the interest of buyers to new names and contemporary art. In this case, "slightly" — is deliberately understated feature. Not to jinx it.

If, however, the only phrase that describes "Russian week" — 2020, it reads: in the period of crisis full of hope dawn Aivazovsky want to buy more than a poor farmstead Savrasov.

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