Everyone Hopes the Russians Will Save the London Art Auctions

In November, works by Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Mark Rothko came in at underwhelming prices or failed to sell entirely at an auction called The Modern Age at Christie’s, according to The New York Times.

The auction combined collections from the estates of members of two prominent New York families–Rita K. Hillman, president of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, and Alice Lawrence, the widow of Manhattan real estate developer Sylvan Lawrence. The two collections were expected to bring in an already low estimate of $104 million, but ended up bringing in a mere $47 million. 

“It’s all down to estimates, and people were frightened,” James Roundell, a London-based dealer, explained to the Times

But over in London, this week’s expected sales of Impressionist and Modern works at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, while still considerably down from last year’s prices, are expected to do somewhat better, according to Bloomberg. (Together, the two auctions are expected to bring in $144.6 million.)

“Markets that have older-style collectors as the dominant force are less subject to panic flight,” Mr. Roundell told Bloomberg this time around. “In some ways, the Impressionist market has stood still. It has remained solid.”  

“Good works will continue to sell,” London-based art adviser Tania Buckrell Pos, who caters to Russian clients, told Bloomberg. “These artists are tried and tested. In the contemporary market there are a lot of artists whose reputations aren’t proven.”

Hopefully, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his designer girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, will also put in an appearance. (Last year, Mr. Abramovich made headlines when he purchased a Degas for $26.5 million, a Francis Bacon triptych for $86.3 million, and a painting by Lucian Freud for $33.6 million.)  

Everyone Hopes the Russians Will Save the London Art Auctions