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 OFFEREDLOTS SOLD% SOLDTOTALSHARE
Sotheby’s

367

26773%£9.12m

38.2%

Christie’s

312

21870%£6.90m

28.9%

MacDougall’s

316

18659%£6.70m

28.0%

Bonhams

122

7864%£1.18m

4.9%

TOTALS

1117

74967%

£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

ARTISTTITLEPRICEESTIMATEFIRM
YakovlevDancer in Spanish Costume £1,112,750£400-600,000Christie’s
YakovlevHarlequin (1922)£730,000£150-200,000Sotheby’s
ShukhayevRussian Landscape (1922)£418,000£250-350,000Sotheby’s
TchelitchewExcelsior (1934)£418,000£250-350,000Sotheby’s
Savelev BrosImperial Triptych Icon (1894)£406,000  £80-120,000Sotheby’s
NesterovA Lonely Woman (1922)£370,000£200-300,000Sotheby’s
GrigorievLa Mère Agathe (1924)£369,000£250-350,000Christie’s
SoutineMadeleine Castaing (c.1937)£359,000£300-500,000MacDougall’s
DeneikaWoman in Yellow Dress (1955)£345,000£300-500,000MacDougall’s
KuznetsovFountain (1904)£333,000£250-500,000MacDougall’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