Sotheby’s first ever flagship sale of Russian Pictures to be held online closed yesterday, bringing in a total of £5.6 million / $6.9 million. Comfortably exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £3.9-5.1 million, the sale saw over 57% of lots achieve over their high estimates, with 32% more than doubling their pre-sale low estimate.  27% more bidders were active than in November’s Live Russian Pictures Sale. You may view full results here.

The sale saw Ivan Aivazovsky’s monumental painting The Bay of Naples (Lot 29) soar to £2.3 million / $2.8 million, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate (£800,000 – £1.2 million) and superseding the record set by Giorgio Morandi’s Natura morta (Still Life) last week, to become the highest value painting ever sold in an online only sale.


Russian Pictures is one of numerous sales at Sotheby’s that had originally been scheduled as live auctions, but – in light of the current global circumstances – have been converted into online sales. Year to date Sotheby’s has staged over 85 dedicated online auctions, totaling more than $145 million, nearly six times Sotheby’s year-to-date total for 2019 (six times Sotheby’s year-to-date total in 2019).

This sale follows exceptional results for Sotheby’s Russian Pictures sale in November 2019, when  Ivan Kliun’s Spherical Suprematism made £4.9million (est. £2.5-3.5 million), one of the highest prices ever achieved in a Russian Pictures auctions, and Konstantin Yuon’s The Ancient Town of Uglich sold for £1.3million (est. £600,000-800,000).


In addition to the Aivazovsky mentioned above, the record-breaking online auction saw a second work by the artist, Passing Ship on a Moonlit Night (Lot 2) sail to an impressive £435,000 / $533,310, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of £150,000 – 200,000.


Green Oak Trees at Twilight (Lot 16) and Indian Summer (Lot 17) by avant-garde artist Petr Konchalovsky both more than doubled their pre-sale estimates to achieve £150,000 / $183,900 and £118,750 / $145,588 respectively, whilst Ivan Shiskin’s summery work A Bench in the Shade (Lot 3), more than tripled its low estimate of £30,000 to sell for £106,250 / $130,262.


Notably, Igor Obrosov’s Portrait of the Actress O.S. (Lot 102) achieved £75,000 / $91,950 more than ten times its pre-sale estimate of £5,000 – 7,000, setting a new record for the artist.

Statistics on Bidders & Buyers:

  • Nearly 20% of buyers were new to Sotheby’s, and the proportion of first-time bidders was similar.
  • Almost 30% of buyers were aged 40 or under.
  • The online auction saw an increase of 27% in the number of bidders participating compared to the Russian Pictures live sale held in November 2019.
  • 5 bidders competed for The Reigning Monarchs of the Worldby Vasily Shukhaev (Lot 20),  which sold for £56,250 – over seven times its low estimate of £8000
  • 6 bidders chased Vladimir Stozharov’s Autumn, Invshino(Lot 51) which achieved £60,000 – over ten times its pre-sale estimate, after 35 bids were place online.

Don’t miss Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art sale, opening for bidding on 9 June, and will be led by an exceptional Fabergé gem-set silver and enamel icon of Christ Pantokrator.