The Russian Sale at Bonhams on December 1 saw a table from the Imperial Winter Palace exceed all expectations to sell for more than four times its estimate.
The striking circular table had originally stood in the Golden Drawing Room in the Winter Palace, the main residence of the Russian Imperial family in St. Petersburg, and featured an intricate design and range of materials from coral to onyx and turquoise.
It had an estimated price of £150,000 - £200,000, but as the bidding closed in a packed auction room it sold for an amazing £916,000 ($1.42m US).
Commenting on the extraordinary success of the table, Yelena Harbick Director of Russian Art in Bonhams NY said: "Having secured the magnificent table early on allowed ample time to thoroughly research the provenance in Russian archives and to establish its relevance within its Imperial context. We never doubted that a work of such historical importance would be well received by our clients."
The table wasn't alone in smashing its estimated price. The sale also saw a painting by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov entitled 'Harbour View and Sunset' sell for £65,000, beating its estimate of £35,000-45,000.
And a silver-gilt and enamel desk clock by one of the most important Fabergé Workmasters, Henrik Wigström, sold for £108,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £45,000 - 55,000.
Further highlights of the sale included a riverside scene with a crane and barge by Robert Rafailovich Falk that sold for £120,000, and a painting by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky entitled Sunset over the Golden Horn (Constantinople) from Pera was also successful, selling for £96,000.
The icon section of the sale far exceeded pre-sale expectations. St Vladimir, "Equal to the Apostles" made in Moscow in 1896 sold for £36,000, over ten times its lower pre-estimate of £3,000.
Christ Pancrator, made in St Petersburg in 1870, which had the makers mark of Pavel Ochinnikov with the Imperial Warrant, sold for £33,600 and The Mother of God of Smolensk, made in Moscow in 1891 sold for £30,000.
Commenting on the overall success of the sale, Department head Evgenia Teslyuk said "We are extremely pleased with the results of the sale. It underscores that well priced quality objects from private collections and items of historical importance continue to captivate the market's attention. Working closely with our International offices, we benefitted from an influx of new buyers from Russia, America, Europe and Middle East.".
For collectors there's never been a better time to invest in Russian art, and all the evidence points towards an even bigger year in 2011.
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