The most expensive Russian artwork ever auctioned

The most expensive Russian artwork ever auctioned:

Are we a product of our genetics or our upbringing?

It's a question that not only fascinates geneticists, but art historians too.

And it's a real problem when determining the most expensive Russian artwork ever auctioned.

Mark Rothko has a claim. Born in Latvia in 1903, then part of the Russian Empire, he emigrated to America in 1913, aged just 10, but only began exploring his artistic abilities in 1923.

Mark Rothko Orange, Red, Yellow world record
Rothko's $86.9m Orange, Red, Yellow (1961)

His 1961 Orange, Red, Yellow sold for $86.9m at Christie's in May 2012 - a world record for a contemporary artwork at auction.

Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935), on the other hand, was born in the Russian Empire, or the Soviet Union as it became, and remained there for the majority of his life.

However, the short time he did spend away from the country caused him problems.

Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Composition
Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Composition made $60m in 2008

He was arrested in 1930 for mixing with German artists, a move not tolerated by Soviet officials. Many of his works were subsequently destroyed.

His 1916 Suprematist Composition sold for $60m at Sotheby's New York in 2008.


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