Russian art sale brings $13.8m

The Sotheby's autumn sale of Russian Art in New York brought a total of $13,794,275, well in excess of the high estimate of $6.9-9.6m.

Overwhelmingly drawn from distinguished private collections and estates, the sale presented important works that were extremely fresh to the market.

The top lot of the sale was Boris Grigoriev's Mother and Child, a recently rediscovered masterwork acquired directly from the artist and since kept in a private European collection, which virtually doubled its high estimate to sell for $1.4m (well over $500-700,000).

Peter the Great Award Miniature ($1.3m)
Peter the Great Award Miniature ($1.3m)

One of the most exciting moments of the day came when a Rare Russian Award Portrait Miniature of Peter the Great from the 18th century came on the auction block. Nine different bidders competed for the treasure which eventually sold for aremarkable $1,314,500, ten times the high estimate.

Ninety-seven percent of the sold lots in the sale achieved prices at or in excess of their estimates.

"We are delighted with today's results which are a vindication of our strategy for this sale - presenting clients high quality works of art with distinguished provenance at conservative estimates," Sonya Bekkerman and Gerard Hill, Sotheby's experts in Russian Paintings and Decorative Works of Art, in a statement.

"We saw strong demand from both established and new collectors which accounts for the large number of works that sold above their estimates.

"This excellent result follows our well-received exhibition in Moscow earlier this fall and we now look forward to the upcoming auctions in London at the end of November including Romanov Heirlooms: The Lost Inheritance of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna."

Important works from the Schreiber Collection brought a total of $5.1m and accounted for many of the top lots of today's sale. The collection is one of the finest groupings of modern and avant-garde Russian art assembled in the United States.

Among the top-selling paintings were two works by Boris Grigoriev; Faces of Russia which sold for

$986,500, well in excess of the $400/600,000 estimate and Pont-Aven Evening, which brought $890,000, comfortably doubling the pre-sale high estimate of $400,000.

Natalia Goncharova also featured strongly with two works - Tournesols ($866,500) and Still Life with Flowers ($806,500) - both exceeding their high estimates. In addition to the works from the Schreiber collection, paintings from other private collections also performed well, including the aforementioned rediscovered work by Grigoriev, Mother and Child.

From a private collection in Germany was At the Window by Konstantin Korovin, an extraordinary double portrait from the artist's brief time in Berlin in 1923, just before he settled permanently in Paris which brought $1,178,500, above a high estimate of $800,000.

A section devoted to Russian Works of Art, Fabergé and Icons brought a total of $1.7 million, well above the high estimate of $740,000. The offering was led by a Rare Russian Award Portrait Miniature of Peter the Great from the 18th century which sold for a remarkable $1,314,500, more than ten times the high estimate of $120,000.

Nine different bidders, both in the room and on the telephone, competed for the diamond-encrusted treasure which has recently been discovered in an Arizona collection.

Bidding for the Tsarist gift, which is one of only six known to exist, lasted for several minutes and ended with applause, selling to an anonymous purchaser on the telephone.

Other rarities also sparked competition including a late 1920s Soviet Propaganda Porcelain Inkwell from the State Porcelain Manufactory which soared over a high estimate of $7,000 to sell for $110,500. Likewise, a Covered Coconut Cup with Gilded Silver Mounts and a Carved Coconut Ladle with Silver Mounts, prized items in the homes of 17th century Russian tsars and noblemen, sold for $104,500, more than ten times the high estimate of $8,000.

Among a strong group of icons included in the sale was a Fabergé Silver-Mounted Pendant of Christ Pantocrator, Moscow, circa 1910 which brought $86,500, above a presale estimate of $15/20,000.

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