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."