Черный юмор.

Белый зал.

Кипит Харламов

Как жаль, как жаль




Всем на аукционы



Наташка, Наташка,

Мурашка, мурашка

Харламов, Харламов

Какашка, Какашка


А тот?

За керенки ушла

А она?

В бумажочка……



искусство, искусство,

Эх, эх, без вкуса!

С нефтью с газом занята


Провал, товарищи, Провал!


— А Лёшка со Сарой в бутке…

(А я в бутылке)

А Катя с Биллом

Держат флаг

«Вся власть аукционам»

И всех вам благ…..

                  Горе, горе —

На всем Бондстритском свете!


— Русски были сам богат…

— Щас денег нет, не виноват!


Провал, товарищи, Провал!


искусство, искусство,

Эх, эх, без вкуса!

С дядей Джо и занята.


То вирус, то локдоун

Говорю вам в лоб.

— Искуccтво не купишь

— загонят в гроб


Ревью есть такое и


Дам я совет

Кури марихуану

…………….Бай, бай и










“В ярости я то писал,

Не зная, что такой провал

И перед Кат и Билл “Шапо!”

Вам лавры, золото, Марго!”

А.С. Пушкин

It’s always such a mistake, even embarrassing at my age, to jump the gun, to be premature. Imagine, there you are, as the Etruscan (please forgive any overt racism here) armies circle, ready to throw yourself into the flowing Tiber when Maximum Decimus Meridius, Commander of the armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, hoves into view with the Praetorian Guard at his back.

Bill and Kat are Maximus. Father to a wonky market, husband to a weak-willed week. Joined as one, forged in fire and all assisted by the machine that goes, ‘ping!’.

I was present at only two of the auctions. Christies looked like the set of Logan’s Run, with ace auctioneer Sarah Mansfield looking uncommonly like Jenny Agutter (swoon) and Big Al brooding in the Michael York role. There is no two ways about it, however, the auction did not go well, it was like an aircraft that failed to lift-off. Yes, a Levitsky portrait sold, yes, the twice-unsold Gorbatov of Kitezh disappeared into the ether but the major Falk, which carried a whopping estimate anyway, failed to find a buyer, likewise Serov, Korovin and Goncharova. The non-conformist works on paper, much to my chagrin, did very well but then Bulatov, as was proven at Macky D’s, is an undervalued artist.

Sotheby’s. It has always been difficult to hide my personal affiliation with this august organisation. Grandfather, godfather, Father of All etc., have passed through their hallowed halls but their results weren’t great either. Inevitably I suppose, the Aivasovsky of Moonlight over the Dniepr went very well but, what with Bogomazov Bombing, Goncharova MIA and Kharlamov selling I suppose personal disappointment overrode objectivity.

Sotheby’s. Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky. Moonlight over the Dnieper. Estimate: 300,000 – 500,000 GBP. Lot sold: 983,000GBP

A truly ghastly Larionov nude went tonto, likewise a Sudiekin diptych and a Puni of an orange armchair which sounds as about as exciting as an armchair in orange. Still, there is hope when the Doobie and Wino ‘Big Paradise’ (big, fat doob more like), went as crazy as those depicted on its linen surface.

Sotheby’s. Ivan Puni. Chaise noire sur fond rouge. Estimate: 5,000 – 7,000 GBP. Lot sold: 22,680 GBP

A Grigoriev of an embrace merely made me want to weep. 50 grands worth of weep. I had a drawing from the self-same series, Russiche Erotica, which was several lengths better which hobbled over the line a few years back for one fifth of the price of the June one…..

Sotheby’s. Alexander Mikhailovich Gerasimov. Wild flowers. Estimate: 180,000 – 250,000 GBP. Lot sold: 302,400 GBP

There were some other highlights. A still life by Alexander Gerasimov caused what is known as a dichotomy of feelings within my sacred frame. When I began my stellar career, Gerasimov was the first artist of whom I purchased work. Little did I know the personal details of the man. Making poor old Deineka blub, causing Yoganson to picture him as a factory owner and being, to coin a phrase, a prize class-sneak. He even looked like one but then if I had had a face like Gerasimov, I’d have taught my rear end to speak. His son who, for reasons known only to Gerasimov’s Life Coach (quick plug honey), was called Vladlen, once threatened me. Moi? How dare you, you snivelling peasant! I spit me of you!

“I’m still standing”, John E. 1989

This dichotomy comes about because, when faced with Gerasimov as a dealer, do you take the moral high ground, or do you take the low road? Here was a man who basically made Beria look like Rapunzel, symbol of a foul, repressive regime whose memory should be expunged. Should I sell his work, or not? When recently asked to find a work by Gerry (and you need a bloody pacemaker to view half his stuff) should I have stood tall, like Horatius on the Bridge, told the buyer to fetch his coat or sunk to the level of the lowly sloth, taken the money and retired to Lower Silesia?

I felt dreadful when I banked the cheque but consoled myself that the (former) owners are amongst the angels and I had greatly assisted them in their continuing journey into Paradise.

Sotheby’s Lot 165. Evgeny Zherdzitsky and Adolf Konstantinopolsky. Join the Fight Against Child Neglect! Estimate:5,000 – 7,000 GBP. Lot sold: 32,760 GBP

Lot 165 at Sotheby’s took us further down that road. In the opposite direction. When parting with £32,000 for a painting dedicated to a mass-murderer doesn’t the buyer have the remotest notion of history? The artist’s christian name is Adolf FFS! We have been down this road before. Communism should have, but never, disappeared in Russia. It just got re-wrapped and redistributed in the form of a radical political theory to the gullible West. When I sneeze now, I don’t go ‘Atishoo!’, I go ‘Nordstreamtwo!’.

Which brings me to the myaso in this butterbrod. MacDougall’s (you see, I do listen?) who, despite a febrile auction atmosphere that resembled El Greco’s, ‘The Cleansing of the Temple’, pulled off a stunning success with lot after lot being sold by the headmasterly auctioneer. Having reminded the audience who was Boss, having asked for silence from the machine that went ‘Ping!’, this latter-day Male Jean Brodie piled through lot after sold lot in a styled honed, presumably, of years chasing hounds. A Falk, considerably worse than the one at Sotheby’s, but sensibly priced, the major Shishkin from Brazil and even a Baranov Rossine, the market for whom has long disappeared, flew off the register as MacDougall’s (just checking….) achieved only 98 lots out of 210 unsold and their non-conformists works did even better with a hit rate of around 90%. This was topped off when the truly superb Bulatov, ‘Vault of Heaven’ hit its very destination for over £500,000, the highest price for this very singular artist at auction for over ten years. The dynamic of Russian Art week is usually kick-off at Christies and tapering off at MacDougalls (5+). Not this year as Bill and Kat take the rostrum like conquering heroes, the Etruscans scattered.

Macdougall’s. Lot 154. Erik Bulatov, The Vault of Heaven, 2007. Oil on canvas. Sold.

‘My name is Gladiator’.

Whilst this review is all about sales results, those fine folk at Roseberry’s have pulled off a coup and will be auctioning lots by Rokotov, Dzhogin and Sverchkov for their next sale. You’ll be pleased to note that their catalogue entry notes now state that, ‘the authenticity of this lot has been confirmed by…’ some no-one with a reputation right up there with Meghan Markle. Knows about as much as she does about art, too….

Bruun Rasmussen. Lot 283. Theodora Krarup (1862- 1941). Portrait of Grigori Jefimovich Rasputin. Signed and dated Th. Krarup 1915. Oil on canvas. 58×44.5 cm.

Bruun Rasmussen are also in the nice-guys-finnish-first brigade. Their top lot, a portrait of legendary ascetic, Grigory Rasputin by Theodora Krarap hit an impressive £57,000 squids. I love lots like this, great dollops of history with a glace-cherry, Finnish consul, provenance, on top and all painted by a so-in-vogue-baby lady artist too. The catalogue blurb is great and so evocative – what a bonkers story. Rasputin was, as you may have gathered, a somewhat complex figure of whom, according to his daughter, one body part was preserved for posterity’s sake. Yup. That one. Eduard Radzinsky, the historian that proved that come-over-and-help-me hair partings are enjoying a revival, is the man to read on the subject.

Bonhams. Lot 9. NATALIA SERGEEVNA GONCHAROVA(Russian, 1881-1962) Head of Saint

Thus, my little vaccinees, with all moral credibility dissipated, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to the buyer of Lot 9 at Bonhams. Boots the Opticians are open 9 till 5 – though news has reached me that Dolly Parton has stopped giving certificates.

What a way to make a living.