Two Russian masterworks sell privately at Sotheby’s

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Two works both painted in 1917 – Robert Falk’s Man in a Bowler Hat (Portrait of Yakov Kagan-Shabshai) and Petr Konchalovsky’s monumental Family Portrait in the Artist’s Studio – have sold privately to an important private Russian collector ahead of Sotheby’s Russian auctions next week.

Falk’s masterpiece, an arresting portrait of one of the most important collectors of Jewish art of the early 20th century, sold for a price well in excess of the auction estimate that had been placed on the work (£2.5-3.5million), and many times the existing auction record for a work by the artist.

The buyer of that painting also purchased Petr Konchalovsky’s Family Portrait in the Artist’s Studio for £4,674,500 – some four times the auction record for a work by the artist (£1,035,850).

Jo Vickery, senior director and head of Sotheby’s Russian Art Department in London, said: “The interest we saw in these two works before the auction, resulting in these extraordinary private sales, was unprecedented, demonstrating the enormous enthusiasm that exists in today’s market for truly great Russian art. Important new benchmarks have now been set for two of Russia’s most significant artists, whose work is less known outside Russia and yet will surely be re-appraised as a result.”

Next week’s Russian auctions at Sotheby’s take place on Monday November 25 and Tuesday November 26.