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Russian art market - 2018. Results
ARTinvestment.RU   19 december 2018

In 2018, the volume of sales of Russian art at auctions grew by 10% in dollars worldwide. However, during the same time, the sales of fine art at local auctions in Russia fell down by almost 25%

If in 2017 all the local auctions in Russia sold painting and graphics for $ 8.7 million, then in 2018 the sales volume was only $ 6.6 million.

This annual drop of 25% has an obvious explanation (at least for Russians)/ The reason is the continuos deterioration of the economic situation in the country, the growth of uncertainty and the decline in real incomes of people who were the traditional buyers of art.

The average rate of sold lots has grown from 38% in 2017 to 47% in 2018. This is primarily due to the growing popularity of the affordable art segment (that means 20,000–60,000 rubles price range). In particular, at our own auction of affordable art (and we held as many as four such auctions in 2018), the sold lots rate reached 85%. This auction format was preffered by new collectors and middle-class art lovers.

Table 1. Russian art in dynamics before and after the crisis of 2014

Parameter / year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Russian local auctions annual sales, $ 21 14 4,6 7 8,7 6,6
Average sold lots ratio at local auctions, % 39 41 35 44 38 47
Sales volume of Russian art at international auctions*, $ 525 677 573 287 455 515
Average Russain art sold lots ratio at auctions abroad, % 52 48 48 52 47 52

* his figure includes the international auction results of all artist that were born within the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. So we consider Mark Rothko, Chaim Soutine, Alexej von Jawlensky Russian artists as well as Mark Chagall and Wassily Kandinsky. Source: artinvestment.ru.

Let`s recall what was good in 2018.

None of the major local auctions left the market in 2018. All the auction houses survived. No one was closed. Main galleries survived too. Someone felt well, someone worse, but they did it. In 2017 the situation was worse.

Moreover, It was another year of fashion for museums visiting. The famous Queue to Serov (that became рорular mem in social networks) was replaced by Queue to Kuindzhi, Queue to Edo Epoch Masterpieces and many, many more queues. Every day there were long tails of people standing to the box offices of leading Russian museums for exhibition blockbusters. Tickets to such hits as Arkhip Kuindzhi were sold out for several weeks in advance. Of course, we understand that it not correct to predict the art market success basing on just a people`s education interest. In practice, less than 1% of visitors to museums and fairs became the real buyers of paintings and drawings. The rest of the visitors are just watching public. Anyway, that is important for the right cultural atmosphere: the educational popularity of art also helps the art market for sure.

The List of Top Russian artists at the auction market also suffered some good changes in 2018, though the year was especially difficult. We have four newcomers in the rank. Malevich's Suprematist Composition, bought for $ 60 million at Sotheby`s in 2008, was resold at Christie`s for $ 85 million. Standing nude by Nicolas de Stael not only entered the auction top, but also became a role model example of successful art investments. In 2013, this picture was bought on ArtCurial for $ 6.13 million, and five years later resold at Christie`s for $ 12.13 million. The auction from this money deducted a commission, so the seller got noticeably less. However, it is definitely phenomenal success. Musician by Tamara Lempitski also grew in price condiderably. In 2002, the previous owner bought that picture for $ 2.6 million, and now he sold it for $ 9 million. Finally, the fourth newcomer of our rating is Konstantin Makovsky's Hide and Seek Game. In November 2018 during so-called Russian week in London, it was sold unexpectedly at Sotheby`s for $ 5.5 million, almost twice higher than the estimate. Russian art market feels good when Russian buyer`s bids far from their native country, in phsycological comfort.

What was bad in 2018

Year 2018 has become the fifth year of missed opportunities for the national art market. The government, the Ministry of Economic Development and the other authorities did not help Russian artists, galleries and auctions to develop their art export opportunities. Many companies missed their chance for export to countries with existing demand for Russian art: to China, to Western and Eastern Europe. Foreign collectors refuse to buy art in Russia, having learned what they have to go through for getting the export pass. Formally, export is allowed, but bureaucratic barriers are so strong, that in practice art export is almost impossible as a business.

However, as it turned out now, export restrictions are just the part of the big trouble. In 2018, local authorities did not sit idle: they invented new barriers and additional requisitions for the legal art industry. The main news of the year for art dealers is the threat of UPRAVIS, an organization that charges 5% of resale price in favor of artists by resale right (droit de suie). In the autumn, several leading auction houses at once received prosecution checks at the request of UPRAVIS demanding to provide comleted data on their sales (including the personal data of their clients). Most auctions rightly saw in these requirements a threat to the confidentiality of their customer base, which is the basis of the business. Authorities did not hear the arguments of experts who understand how the art market is arranged. As a result, the search for a compromise began when Resolution No. 285 was already took effect. The consequences were predictable: auction managers began to spend the lion's share of time in consultations with UPRAVIS instead of selling art.

In 2018, Moscow lost the largest and the most important exhibition space for artists and a place with good traffic for galleries – The Central House of Artists (CHA). It seems to be the NON/FICTION Fair, ARCH-MOSCOW Fair, Russain Art & Antique Fair will move to the Central State Exhibition Hall Manezh. Antique Salon will move in Gostiny Dvor. Unfortunately, the artists have no exhibition space to move. The other exhibition halls could be found for sure. But there is no such place where you can arrange an exhibition yourself in the center of the city with native traffic of potential customers. Galleries that were placed in CHA suffer the same difficulties. The have no good place to move. Former CHA-based galleries were proposed to move to a complex in the Paveletskaya metro area with small office spaces and low ceilings. And on the site of the time-honored and beloved by many halls of the Central House of Artists will be built a lecture hall, library and restaurant with a panoramic view on Gorky Park – the project of Rem Koolhaas.

Finally, the 2018th was not only difficult by the economy, but also extremely tragic in terms of human losses. In 2018, Vladimir Yankilevsky, Oscar Rabin, Vyacheslav Koleichuk, Leonid Sokov, Nikolay Silis, Boris Beach, Andrei Krisanov, Vladimir Yashke, and a number of other prominent Russian artists died ...

What can we expect from the upcoming 2019 for the national art market? This market cannot function effectively in isolation and is too dependent on the success of other industries - mining, construction, etc. its prosperity is possible when a wide group of people have not only high steady income, but also faith in good economic future. People prefer to buy art on the expectation that future will be better and better. We need an increase in economic activity, a substantial increase in the well-being of the upper middle class, an objective (rather than feigned) general improvement in expectations and public sentiment. And this is just the minimum.

One should not be the fortuneteller to say that in 2019 the business climate in art market will not become better. We see that the authorities, despite the nature of the situation, is increasing its negative regulatory impact and pressure on the art business. At first they introduced the 5% resale tax, making the situation worse not only for the sellers, but also for the artists themselves. Now they discuss an idea of ​​returning to licensing of antique trade business. So, the coming year will be devoted to solving artificially created problems. Art business will be restructuring and adjusting to new business conditions instead of its direct tasks i.e. the art trade.

But show must go on. Things can get better faster than we think. It is clear that there no sense to wait for "good from outside" (i.e. lifting of sanctions) in the nearest future. And the most clever answer to the sanctions (which they were waiting for) should be “good from the inside.” That is why Russian business hoped that the government would answer to external pressure by adopting a new economic policy. The government on the contrary could give more freedom to small and medium businesses instead of tightening the screws and chasing the unfortunate self-employed. It could remove excessive regulation, introduce tax holidays and even build new confident judicial system. For instance, they could launch a pilot project in Moscow, so that businessmen from all over Russia could come to the Moscow courts and be sure that they will get the truth. The process is not fast, but even first good signs could make people buy art again.

And finally, let`s recall the records of the year 2018. In order to set the mood. And in general, not to forget about beauty of art, even in these strange times of economic absurdity.

Table 2. Top 10 most expensive paintings by Russian artists at world auctions in 2018

PlaceArtistPrice, $Work`s name
1Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich85 812 496Suprematist composition
2Rothko, Mark35 712 500Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum)
3Kandinsky, Vasily Vasilievich24 233 800Improvisation auf Mahagoni (Improvisation on Mahogany)
4Staël, Nicolas12 125 000Nu Debout
5Chagall, Marc7 062 500Le village bleu
6Jawlensky, Alexey Georgievich6 000 000Blaue Kappe (Blue Cap)
7Makovsky, Konstantin Egorovich5 459 575Blind Man's Bluff
8Lempicka, Tamara de5 375 000Femme à la colombe
9Pirosmani, Niko2 839 682Georgian Woman Wearing a Lechaki
10Konchalovsky, Petr Petrovich2 081 019The Game of Billiards. Aristarkh Lentulov and Petr Konchalovsky

* The rating is based on the rule «one artist - one picture», so that the top does not not consist of just several paintings by one author..

Source: artinvestment.ru

Table 3. Top-10 of the most expensive works of the nonconformists at world auctions in 2018

PlaceArtistPrice, $Work`s name
1Tselkov, Oleg Nikolaevich249 619Portrait of group with watermelon
2Kabakov, Iliya Iosifovich233 668In the Park 1972
3Shvartsman, Mikhail Matveevich111 195Вечер
4Sitnikov, Vasily Yakovlevich100 043Monastery
5Sokov, Leonid Petrovich92 111Lenin and Giacometti
6Orlov, Boris Konstantinovich81 669Imperial totem
7Veisberg, Vladimir Grirorievich80 388Still life with eleven test tubes
8Yankilevsky, Vladimir Borisovich74 130Из цикла «Женщина у моря»
9Pivovarov, Victor Dmitrievich64 246Малевич в снегу
10Ovchinnikov, Vladimir Afanasievich58 616Kazan Cathedral

Source: artinvestment.ru

Table 4. Top 10 most expensive works of contemporary art

PlaceArtistPrice, $Work`s name
1Kruglyanskaya, Ella 100 000Girl on a Hot Day
2Guriyanov, Georgy Konstantinovich98 840Летчик
3Dubosarsky V.E. | Vinogradov A.A.86 485Наташа
4Koshlyakov, Valery Nikolaevich60 924Gothic II
5Novikov, Timur Petrovich49 001Маки
6Tsoy, Viktor Robertovich36 168Без названия
7Golosij, Oleg Nikolaevich32 668Стрелок из лука
8Peppershtein, Pavel Viktorovich32 668Без названия (Веселые картинки)
9Novikov Timur |Kotelnikov Oleg24 710Leningrad-Stockholm
10Zvezdochetov, Konstantin Viktorovich23 334Чёрный кот, белая ворона

Source: artinvestment.ru

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