Recent record-breaking sales of Russian art

The two major auction companies dealing in fine art, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, have recently done extremely well in the sale of Russian art. Sotheby’s sale in New York on Wednesday, May 3, brought the highest total ever for a sale of Russian art - $46.7 million. The piece that sold for the most – Nikolai Roerich’s “Lao-Tze” – went for approximately eleven times more than its estimated price. Several of the recent auctions have set numerous world records for sales of particular artists.

The trend in Russian art is astounding. Real interest in Russian art began to take off in an international sense around 2000, and since then, sales have climbed dramatically at the major auction houses. Interestingly enough, the majority of the buyers at the high-end auctions have been wealthy Russian businesspeople. However, interest on the American front has recently jumped in part due to exhibitions at some of the major museums here, including the exhibition entitled “Russia!” last year at the Guggenheim museum in New York.

One of the factors exciting Russian art collectors is the vast source of phenomenal art. Sales of the old European masters, while still in existence, are really quite rare in comparison, as the paintings entered the art market long ago. Russian art, however, has only recently come en masse into the international art scene, since for years it was for the most part locked in the country until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Collectors are excited by not only the quantity of what is available, but more importantly, the quality, and are eager to become involved in this amazing collecting opportunity.