Art investors set records at Russian Art Week

An Ilya Mashkov more than trebles its £1.5m ($2.3m) estimate - selling for £4.7m ($7.3m)

Ivan Shishkin's Twilight nets a £2.2m ($3.3m) record for the artist.

Nikolai Roerich's Madonna Laboris sets a new £7.9m ($12.1m) record for an artwork at a dedicated Russian art auction.

Yes, it has to be London's Russian Art Week.

The biannual event, taking place this week, has once again lived up to expectations, following a £43m ($66m) showing in November.

Why the continued success?

Mashkov auction art
Mashkov's £4.7m still life trebled its estimate

According to founder of the Russian Art Week guide and editor of Russian Art and Culture, Theodora Clarke, eagle-eyed investors protecting their wealth has much to do with it.

"Art is being seen by high net-worth individuals as a good alternative investment given the eurozone crisis," she told the UK's Telegraph newspaper.

"As a result, buyers want top-quality works with a good provenance, which is what the main auction houses offer."  

Yet even before the economic crash, demand for Russian pieces was rising - suggesting that Russia's growing wealth following the end of communism has brought collectors, as well as investors, to the fray.

"It is incredible to think that just over 10 years ago, Sotheby's Russian painting sales only made around £4m a year and that by 2007 the market had grown to nearly £100m," says Clarke.

Like China's ongoing repatriation of its artistic heritage, it appears that the majority of the pieces at Russian Art Week are finding new homes back in their country of origin, or within London's large, and wealthy Russian community.

Yet I have little doubt that there will be an art investor or two from outside Russia and China eyeing the current upsurge in interest, and prices, with relish…

You will find much more about Russian art and Russian Art Week in this week's newsletter - I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for reading,


Paul Fraser

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