Modern & Contemporary Russian sales up 21% from December 2011, despite falling short of market expectations.
The London Russian sales in May 2012 did better than December 2011, with the Modern and Contemporary Russian lots totalling £18,881,900. This is up by 21% from last season of Russian sales. Contemporary Russian Art accounted for only 5.4% of the turnover, whereas the Modern segment dominated the transactions.
MacDougall’s, the Russian auction specialist came in as number one, in terms of overall Russian Modern and Contemporary sales, achieving a total of £9,285,500. Although the highest total of the three auction houses, it fell significantly short of their pre-sale estimate of £21,771,500 to £31,667,500 (based only on Modern and Contemporary lots). The high bought-in rate of 51%, resulted in a low ArtTactic Auction Indicator reading of 10.
The sales of Modern & Contemporary Russian art were a disappointment despite the increase in total sales from December 2011. The sector is struggling to find works that excite collectors, compounded by overpricing and unrealistic expectations on behalf of the sellers. There seems to be an over-reliance on Modern work, and perhaps the market should focus more on the Contemporary segment to re-ignite the enthusiasm in the market. With the Saatchi gallery planning a big exhibition on Russian contemporary art in November 2012 that might not be a bad strategy.