Russian art investors spend $22.6m on old masters at Sotheby's

Bids from Russian art investors totalled more than £15m ($22.6m) in Sotheby's old masters sale on July 3, which saw a record number of bidders from emerging economies.

El Greco Saint Dominic
St Dominic in Prayer by old master El Greco. Contemporary art is also popular with collectors from emerging economies

The sale was highlighted by St Dominic in Prayer, a previously unseen masterpiece by the Spanish artist El Greco, which sold for £9.2m ($13.2m) to a Russian-bidder, who outbid an Asian collector, reports Bloomberg.

The same bidder then went on to secure El Greco's Christ on the Cross for £3.4m ($5.2m).

Russia's ever-expanding economy has led to a newfound interest in art investment.

"Russians are getting into Old Masters," the Amsterdam-based art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal told Bloomberg.

"They're well-advised and are buying the triple-A lots. They're spreading their wealth by buying top-quality in any area of the market."

At least eight of the 47 lots in the sale were bought by Russian-speaking telephone bidders.

Christie's old master sale this week was highlighted by Canaletto's The Molo, Venice, which sold to another bidder from a rapidly growing economy, India.

Meanwhile Adar Poonawalla, the son of an Indian biotech billionaire, bought two paintings, one by Rembrandt and the other attributed to Titian, for more than their expected price at the Christie's sale.

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