Collectors' Corner: Russian art comes in from the cold

Russia's super-rich elite are digging deep to buy all kinds of art from the motherland

The new-found wealth of Russia's elite is having a major impact on the international market for the country's cultural riches. Sotheby's has been holding dedicated Russian art sales since 1985, but the market has been booming in recent times.

"The political and economic changes in Russia over the last five to 10 years are driving the market," explains Jo Vickery, head of the Sotheby's Russian department. "The new clients are primarily wealthy Russians from Moscow and to some extent the Ukraine - they are wealthy and after a steady climb in prices, the cost of art has taken off in the last three years."

Martyn Saunders-Rawlins, a Bonhams consultant, points out that Russian art has a long and proud history. "There's always been a huge interest in art - even in the Soviet era there were people collecting, albeit clandestinely," he says. "However, it's only recently that Russian collectors have been able to actively compete against each other in the international market." That's had a major impact, Saunders-Rawlins says. "A work by Boris Kustodiev sold at another auction house for around £20,000 20 years ago, and was sold again last year for £1.2m."

Collectors are becoming more sophisticated and are starting to look at other areas of Russian collectables. "As the market has developed and matured, it has become so enormous that we are now splitting it into separate sales," adds Vickery.

Sotheby's held its Russian works of art sale this week, and also ran a separate sale of Russian books, manuscripts, maps and photographs. It also plans an inaugural modern and contemporary russian art sale in October.

"We will see areas such as Russian contemporary grow in importance," says Vickery. "If you look at the Chinese and Indian markets, they now have a strong contemporary side and it's inevitable that interest in contemporary Russian work will grow. There are a number of fantastic contemporary artists out there and the artists and collectors just need to become more used to selling and buying at auction."

Soviet porcelain is another area where prices are moving fast, although it remains accessible to less monied collectors. "Much of it was propaganda tools and it's become collectable, especially the good quality and well designed items from top artists such as Malevich," says Vickery.

Saunders-Rawlins also thinks porcelain is on the up. "We're already seeing 1920s and 30s post-Revolution porcelain rising and I think we will see a greater interest in collecting porcelain from the 1940s to 50s," he says. "Lomonosov State Porcelain animals could well rise substantially. They were very cheap a few years ago, but prices are going up and those which can be attributed to known artists or painters will do particularly well." He also believes that the market in religious iconography will grow, and highlights interest in Soviet propaganda posters.

The top end of the art market is out of the reach of most people, though with prices having risen so high, it's arguably not a great time to be getting in. However, areas such as porcelain, contemporary art, photographs and even books represent more affordable possibilities for would-be collectors.

"I feel optimistic about the market in general," says Vickery. "Russia is a nation of collectors - they value their art and there will always be collectors as long as the economic and political situation is stable."

Vickery also points to the growing Russian interest in other areas of world art. "There's a huge cachet to owning a painting in your own home that previously could only be viewed in a museum," she says.

Contacts

* Sotheby's: 020-7293 5000

* Bonhams: 020-7468 8334

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    Day In a Page

    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month