Art market

Swedish and German auction houses take advantage of the rising Russian Market

A growing number of mid-size European auction houses are trying to cash in on the Russian boom



On 15 March, the Stockholm Auction House (Auktionsverk), sold E9m ($11.7m)-worth of Russian art against a pre-sale upper estimate of E7.15m ($9.44m). About 80% of the buyers were Russian.

The top selling lot was Cottage in the Woods, by Alexei Savrasov (1830-1897), which sold for E1.08m ($1.4m), a record for the artist at auction. The Lovers by Konstantin Somov (1869-1939), sold for E915,000 ($1.19m), more than twice its top estimate. The Widower’s Mourning, 1883, by Vasili Maximov (1844-1911) sold for E409,000 ($531,700), seven times the top estimate and a record for the artist.

“Sweden is a fertile hunting ground for Russian works of art,” said Ivan Samarine, head of the Russian sale in Stockholm. “Many things have been owned by one family and have remained untouched since they were acquired some time between 1900 and 1930.”

On 23 March, Hampel Fine Art Auctioneers in Munich sold Russian paintings, silver, bronze, porcelain, and Fabergé pieces. The sale was not well publicised among Russian collectors, perhaps one reason why most of the top lots went to international clients who are keen to be part of the rising Russian market but who can’t compete with deep-pocketed Russian oligarchs at major auction houses in London and New York.

Autumnal Landscape by Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) sold for E200,000 ($260,000) to an American collector, who also bought the abstract Composition by Ivan Kliun for E160,000 ($208,000) and Guitarist by Konstantin Korovin for E90,000 ($117,000).

“Over the years, Russian art has become one of our most important departments,’’ said Vitus Graupner, head of the Hampel Russian sale. “We will hold four special sales of Russian art each year,” he added.

Stockholm Auction House’s next Russian sale will be on 28 September, and Hampel’s on 22 June. Another player in this field is the Stuttgart-based Nagel Auktionen. It recently attracted Russian buyers to a sale of Art Deco figures, and one Russian splurged on two undated dancers by Demetre Chiparus (1886-1947), paying E292,600, almost ten times estimate, on one, Almeira, and E56,850 ($77,195, est E8,000) on another, Bayadère. Nagel also sells Russian art in April; its sale was held after this issue of The Art Newspaper went to press.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Sweden and Germany get in on the act'