Russian Auctions in London 4-6 June 2018 Statistical Summary

BY SIMON HEWITT (INTERNATIONAL EDITOR)

AFTER A HEALTHY rebound last November, Russian auction sales jagged down 41% this week to total £23.9m. A lack of frontline consignments – rather than the absence of several heavyweight Moscow buyers due to visa difficulties – was the principal cause.

TOTAL SALES

LOTS OFFERED LOTS SOLD % SOLD TOTAL SHARE
Sotheby’s

367

267 73% £9.12m

38.2%

Christie’s

312

218 70% £6.90m

28.9%

MacDougall’s

316

186 59% £6.70m

28.0%

Bonhams

122

78 64% £1.18m

4.9%

TOTALS

1117

749 67%

£23.90m

With the exception of Bonhams, who almost doubled their meagre takings of last Winter, sales were down across the board: by £5.1m at Sotheby’s, £6.4m at Christie’s and £3.2m at MacDougall’s. Sotheby’s share of the market remained stable at 38%, but Christie’s share fell 6%. After a 6% rise last November, MacDougall’s were up a further 2% as they came within £200,000 of matching Christie’s total. The number of lots on offer was down 11% but the overall buy-in rate remained stable at 33%. The percentage of unsold lots plummeted at Bonhams but festered at MacDougall’s.

TOP TEN

ARTIST TITLE PRICE ESTIMATE FIRM
Yakovlev Dancer in Spanish Costume £1,112,750 £400-600,000 Christie’s
Yakovlev Harlequin (1922) £730,000 £150-200,000 Sotheby’s
Shukhayev Russian Landscape (1922) £418,000 £250-350,000 Sotheby’s
Tchelitchew Excelsior (1934) £418,000 £250-350,000 Sotheby’s
Savelev Bros Imperial Triptych Icon (1894) £406,000   £80-120,000 Sotheby’s
Nesterov A Lonely Woman (1922) £370,000 £200-300,000 Sotheby’s
Grigoriev La Mère Agathe (1924) £369,000 £250-350,000 Christie’s
Soutine Madeleine Castaing (c.1937) £359,000 £300-500,000 MacDougall’s
Deneika Woman in Yellow Dress (1955) £345,000 £300-500,000 MacDougall’s
Kuznetsov Fountain (1904) £333,000 £250-500,000 MacDougall’s

There were just two prices over £600,000, compared to ten last November. Sotheby’s landed five of the Top Ten prices, including the only work of art – but their Yakovlev was trumped by Christie’s. There was again no major Avant-Garde offering nor, with the failure of MacDougall’s £1m-rated Shishkin, did a single 19th century painting make the Top Ten. Bonhams’ top price was an up-on-estimate £237,000 for a 1930s Fechin Still Life with Daisies. Contemporary highlight was the 1963 Tselkov that Igor Tsukanov snaffled for £187,500 at Christie’s.

CONCLUSION

The market failed to capitalize on the upsurge discernible last November after three lean years. Bidding was lively for many lots in the ‘middle-market’ (£200,000-500,000); the chief problem was an absence of major consignments. Whether this reflected a political climate affected by the Skripal crisis and Russia’s presidential election is hard to say; it may be that vendors increasingly prefer to sell pre-Christmas rather than midsummer. Sotheby’s comfortably retained their pre-eminence but MacDougall’s, selling in new premises on The Mall, mounted a stern challenge to Christie’s – and even outsold them when it came to pictures. Bonhams, meanwhile, arrested their recent decline.

A FULL REPORT ON RUSSIAN ART WEEK BY SIMON HEWITT WILL BE ONLINE NEXT WEEK