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Boris Kustodiev's "The Coachman" realises $7 million, setting an auction record for the artist


A diamond and topaz platinum mounted Faberge cross pendent purchased by the Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexander Feodorovna in St Petersburg in 1912 bought for the Tsar's sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna is seen during a press preview at Christie's auction house in London. It was expected to fetch some 50-70,000 pounds (US$ 79-111,000 , euro 61-86,000) when sold at auction on Nov. 26. AP Photo/Alastair Grant.

LONDON.- Christie’s sale of Important Russian Art totaled £15,244,725 / $24,422,050 selling, 65% by lot and 83% by value, setting new world auction records for Boris Kustodiev, Aleksandr Schevchenko and Maria Iakunchikova. The auction took place in a vibrant sale room as international bidders competed for some of the best Russian works of art, many of which were offered to the market for the first time including the three private collections of Kapitza, Iakunchikova and Chekhonon all of which sold 100%.

Sarah Mansfield, Head of the Russian Art Department comments: “We are extremely happy with the fantastic result achieved for The Coachman by Boris Kustodiev, reflecting exactly what collectors are looking for in this particular market: the best works by the best Russian artists, unseen for decades. All of the top ten works sold today came from private collections and were offered for sale for the first time.”

Mark Moerhke , Director of Works of Art, London and New York, declares: “Christie’s continues to lead the Russian Works of Art market internationally. The works of art offered during this sale were privately sourced and were fresh to the market. We were happy to witness that high prices were achieved across many categories, from Faberge works, which continue to be sought after globally, to a strong group of militaria.”

The sale was highlighted by The Coachman by Boris Kustodiev, painted in 1923 and formerly in the collection of Nobel Prize winner and friend to the artist Peter Kapitza (1894-1984). The Coachman realised £4,409,250 / $7,063,618, setting a new world record for the artist at auction. The painting was bought via telephone by a private European collector. The second work from the Peter Kapitza collection, The City outskirts by Aleksandr Shevchenko also established a new world auction record for the artist, selling for £433,250, and resulting in a combined total of over £4.8 million for the Kapitza collections.

Two further private collections also sold 100%; 14 works by Maria Iakunchikova, offered by her family sold for far above the pre-sale estimate of £235,000,selling for £479,878, and 22 works offered from the Family of Sergei Chekhonin, sold for over £350,000.

Moonlit Mausoleums, painted in 1915, fetched £433,250/$694,066/€534,630 and achieved the third highest price for a painting by Russian Avant-Garde Alexander Volkov, whose works were exhibited for the first time outside of Russia and CIS, during one of the longest non selling exhibition at Christie’s this September.

Other highlights of the sale:
The second highest price of the sale was achieved for Portrait of Mademoiselle Podbelskaya, by Nicolai Fechin, painted in 1912, which shows Natalia Alexandrovna Podbelskaya, a student of the Kazan Art School and Fechin’s most famous model from this early period. The picture sold to a private collector for £2,057,250.

The third highest price of the sale was set for an important paste-set gold and silver-gilt and enamel badge and star of the order of St Andrew, the first-called, made circa 1850. It had a pre-sale estimate of £120,000-180,000 and sold for £481,250.

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