Christie's Russian art auction hits record sales of $81 million

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MOSCOW, November 29 (RIA Novosti) - Christie's International in London announced sales of $81 million on Thursday, a world record for an auction of Russian art.

The highlight so far of the week-long sales is a translucent pink Faberge egg, previously owned by the Rothschild family. The egg went under the hammer for $18.5 million on Wednesday.

The translucent pink egg with a miniature clock is made of enamel and gold and topped with a diamond-encrusted cockerel, which pops out every hour. It was made in 1902 as an engagement gift for Baron Edouard de Rothschild, and was never displayed until Christie's pre-auction exhibition was held this October in Moscow.

The winning bidder was Alexander Ivanov, the owner of Russia's first private museum.

Another highlight in the auction was the work of Yuri Annenkov (1889-1974), a Russian painter and graphic artist known for his cubist-style portraits of Communist party leaders, including Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. His painting, 'A Portrait of N.A. Tikhonov' (1922), a noted Soviet writer, was sold for over $4.5 million, exceeding the starting price four-fold.

The Konstantin Somov (1869-1939) collection of 53 lots brought Christie's a total of $13 million. The priciest lot in the set was the artist's 'The Romantic Pursuit' (1935). The canvas went for over $3 million.

Alexei Bogolyubov's (1824-1896) 'Moscow - View of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior from the Kremlin' (1878), from the personal collection of Russian Tsar Alexander III, was sold for $3 million, setting a new record for the artist.

"The view of Moscow, depicted by Bogolyubov, reflects the leisurely, almost provincial life of the old capital with paths made by peasants on the Kremlin hills, small buildings, gardens and private vegetable patches," Christie's said in its lot description. "The monumental bulk of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour dominates the city."

'The Illumination of the Kremlin', by famous Russian artist Isaak Levitan (1860-1900), also surpassed the $3-million mark. The painting represents Moscow at the time of Nicolas II's coronation in 1896, when the whole of Moscow was luxuriously decorated to celebrate the event.

'Lilacs in a Vase' (1905), a rare early work from the impressionist period of Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), a legendary figure of the Russian avant-garde and the world's priciest female artist, was sold for $3.2 million.

Christie's Russian Week will continue until November 30, when the auction house is set to present valuable Russian books and manuscripts, including a number of luxurious albums produced to commemorate the enthronement of the Russian monarchs, Elizabeth, Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicolas II, respectively.

Christie's will also offer Russian icons and selected silver on Friday.

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