The format of the sale was unusual for SOVCOM’s recent activities: this time the lots were estimated and sold in conditional currency units equal to USD, which, however, did not prevent the auction house from performing quite successfully. 63 of 115 lots from the catalogue (53%) were sold during a 1.5-hour sale to the total amount exceeding 770,000 conditional currency units.
The aggregate percentage of sale could have been greater but, according to a SOVCOM representative, 15 lots included in the catalogue had been bought some time before the sale and did not come up for auction.
By the beginning of the bidding for the first lot of the catalogue there were about forty people in the hall. However, neither the removed lots, nor dollar starts, nor other incidents influenced the audience’s activity significantly: a dozen or so of the people took an active part in the sale and bought more than a half—36 out of 63—of all the lots sold that evening. On comparison, bids via phone won only 10 times and absentee bids were successful 17 times.
Actually, there was not much bargaining: most lots were knocked down at the start, and there was a slight margin between the start price and the hammer price only in 9 cases out of 63 lots sold. Violin No.2 by Oscar Rabin (Lot 120) was sold with the greatest bid increment. This beautiful ambient painting of the Lianozovo period went for 39,000 conditional currency units to a bidder from the audience, with a start price of 30,000 conditional currency units by an absentee bid.
The most expensive purchase of the evening was a big (76x106) landscape Winter. Moscow Region(1933) (Lot 24) by PetrVladimirovichVilyams, one of the leading masters of the Soviet art of the first half of the 20th century and one of the founders and active members of OST (the society of easel painters). A bidder from the audience bought the work for 100,000 conditional currency units. In total, 48 paintings out of 90 lots offered for sale have brought to the sale organizers nearly 90% of the total proceeds, or more than 660,000 conditional currency units. Landscapes of the first half of the 20th century proved to be the most popular ones. As for most large flagship works of the academicians of the Soviet painting, such as The Group Portrait of the Stakhanovites of the Stalin Car-Making Plant by A.A. Osmerkin (Lot 46), The Kolkhoz Hut-Lab by M.N. Manyukov (Lot 48) and other similar paintings, they were unsold.
Besides, one of the top lots of the sale--Sanctuaries and Citadels, which was painted in 1925 by N.K. Rerikh during his expedition through Northern India, was also left unsold; though an unexpected increase of the start price from 250,000 to 350,000 conditional currency units must have played its part.
35,000 conditional currency units was the best result among drawings; this sum was paid by a bidder from the audience for A Torso (Lot 35) by a famous Russian surrealist (who is even called a Russian Dali) PavelTchelitchew. In general, more than 60% of the graphic works of classic Russian realistic artists (14 lots out of 22 ones) were sold, which, of course, deserves praise.
Finally, a few words about charity. Two additional lots had been included in the sale catalogue several days before the auction—Little Horses in the Evening (oil on fiberboard) by V.I. Ivanov (Lot 129) an a tempera painting Flowers at the Country House by D.D. Zhilinsky (Lot 130); all the proceeds from their sale will be used for the completion of the film “A Meeting in Caf'e Greco. Monologues” by Sergey Karpukhin about severe style artists. Both lots were bought by a representative of the auction house at the start price of 100,000 rubles each. A similar thing happened quite recently at an antiquarian auction in Moscow: the auction house itself bought quite an expensive and valuable lot to present it to one of the Moscow Region museums. In these difficult times such a trend inspires respect.
We congratulate SOVCOM house on such a confident return into the Moscow auction world and are looking forward to new results. The next sale “Russian Art of the 20th century” is to be held by SOVCOM in spring, on March 16, 2016.
Maria Kuznetsova, AI