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Art Market: Russian Billionaires Are Back

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by Tom Johansmeyer at Luxist

The numbers may not have big, but it felt like 2007 all over again during “Russian Week” in London. Russian billionaires descended on the art auction houses and fought fiercely for prized lots. Compared to last year, auction sales nearly doubled, with the Russians spending $86 million to repatriate icons, paintings, porcelain and Faberge items. This follows $18.5 million in Russian art sales by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York back in April.

The most popular pieces were early 20th century modernist works, with the top lot Alexander Yakovlev’s “Titi and Naranghe, Daughters of Chief Eki Bondo.” It was good for £2.5 million, almost tripling its high-end presale estimate of £900,000.

Sotheby’s was the top auction house of London’s Russian Week, generating £22.3 million by selling approximately 70 percent of its 615 lots. The result falls within the presale range of £19.3 million to £28 million.

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