Against the backdrop of the unprecedented market conditions of 2020, Sotheby’s sales of Russian art totalled an incredible £30 million, maintaining our long-held position of market leader, and several new world records were set. We held the largest number of Russian sales of our competitors in 2020 and once again our total was more than that of the other auction houses combined.
To read more about Sotheby's Russian Art results in 2020, please click here.
In light of the restrictions, the traditional June sales were shifted online and met with huge success. The Russian Pictures sale set a new world record price for a painting sold in an online-only auction with the sale of Ivan Aivazovsky’s Bay of Naples, achieving a staggering result of £2.3m against an estimate of £800,000–1,200,000. Another world record price was set at the Russian Works of Art sale where a Rare and Important Fabergé Icon made more than 4.5 times its high estimate, selling for £2,295,000. Long established as the auction house of choice for important collections of Fabergé and Russian Works of Art, Sotheby’s, this year, was honoured to offer Brooklyn Museum’s distinguished Fabergé collection in a white glove sale, with 100% of the works sold to international collectors for over three times its pre-sale estimate.
In addition to the excellent results seen in the main sales, our third edition of Escape Artists, a mid-season online auction devoted entirely to non-official Soviet art from the post-war era, brought in £1.2m. This was the highest total for this sale format to date and over 50% of all sold lots achieved prices in excess of their high estimate.
Over the past decade, Sotheby’s has established itself as the clear market leader for Russian art. Flagship sales of Russian Pictures and Russian Works of Art are held twice a year, in early June and late November/early December, in addition to the specialised mid-season sale. Sotheby’s has unparalleled access to collectors thanks to a global network of specialists, a dedicated Russian desk in our Private Client Group, and a long-established presence in Moscow, where we regularly hold preview exhibitions.