Russian Auctions in London 25-27 November 2019 – Statistical Summary

AFTER THE DARK Post-Crimea days of 2015/16, when Auction Week totals hovered around  £20m, overall sales have plateau’d at just over £35m for the last three Auction Weeks.

This November’s £35.4m is the 17th highest total (out of 25) since Russian Auction Week assumed its current form in 2007. The number of lots offered (1,254) was the highest since Summer 2014, but the percentage of lots sold (59%) was the lowest since Summer 2016. Sales were up 45% at Sotheby’s but down at the other firms.


Led by their nicely cleaned ex-Costakis Kliun, Sotheby’s hoisted five lots into the Top Ten, ahead of Christie’s (3) and MacDougall’s (2). The other four works to clear £1m had decorative appeal but nothing like comparable quality. The top seven paintings spanned a mere 25-year period from the turn of the 20th century, but 1930s Tchelichew again came into the later reckoning, and is selling consistently well. Top price at Bonhams, meanwhile, was £250,000 for a 1906 Goncharova woodscape.

To find two Works of Art in the Top Ten is relatively rare. Christie’s had their usual giant vase, and Sotheby’s a Khlebnikov icon to follow on from the success of their Savelev triptych eighteen months ago.


In a market more of note for stability than dynamism, the stand-out feature was the combined market-share achieved by Sotheby’s/Christie’s: an imposing 84% (higher still if Christie’s £2.1m Books & Manuscripts sale is taken into account). The other newsworthy factor was a 126-lot sale devoted exclusively to Russian Contemporary at MacDougall’s. This brought just over £1m and was headlined by a 1992 Chuikov that swaggered to a quadruple-estimate £121,500.