Russians Smash Records at Sotheby's Sale

Recession-defying London art auction brings in $230M
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 1:22 PM CST
A woman looks at Claude Monet's 'La Route de la Ferme Saint-Simeon en Hiver' at Sotheby's in London, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. The painting is expected to realize 3-4 million pounds (US $6-8 million; euro...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Sotheby's held its most successful sale ever of modern and impressionist art in London last night, with Russian collectors leading a buying frenzy on a day stock markets tumbled. The auction house sold 67 lots worth $230 million—topping high estimate, Bloomberg reports. "There was a lot of buying from Russians,'' one dealer said. "They have a lot of money."

One Russian collector bought half a dozen works, including a Signac for $6.4 million and a Pissarro for $4.8 million. While the auction house wouldn't reveal the percentage of Russian buyers, it said 87% of lots went to Europeans. Brand-name recognition is trumping connoisseurship, said one dealer: "Russian buyers are looking for decorative, historically important things by good names."