Many are the times when this site has waxed lyrical about the effect that William and Catherine Macdougall had on the staid Russian Art market. It is therefore with enormous sadness that we write of William’s passing.

William MacDougall and James Butterwick

Macdougall’s auction house? The name itself was incongruous and, to start with, they were not taken seriously. William and Catherine were a dynamic combination who soon put that to rights. Taking an infinitely less conventional approach to the selling of art than their better-established competitors William and Catherine blazed a trail through the Establishment and soon found themselves vying for a place at the top table. If Catherine was the fiery no-nonsense face of the company, William was the quiet, studious, power-behind the-throne.

William MacDougall and Natasha Butterwick

Many were our dealings with William, our main supporter. Prompt, attentive and principled, William was an ideal client. Payments were always on time, copy never late and our entire relationship was peaceful, stress-free and, to use the Russian word, ‘плавно’. William’s quiet exterior betrayed an intensely analytical brain always ready to impart vast reserves of knowledge, both of history and of politics, the latter a driving force. Whilst a Conservative to the core, William was far too intelligent an individual to be in thrall to party politics, finding it crass and shallow.

The apparent seriousness of William was also something of an apparition. He possessed a keen sense of humour, was entirely self-deprecating and, time and again, came up with pithy, amusing asides entirely without any cruelty or malice.

The effect of William on the Russian Art market was that of a hand grenade with a slow fuse. His professionalism, dedication and good nature will be sorely, sorely missed.