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Aivazovsky's "St. Isaac Cathedral on a Frosty Day" was bought for a record $2 million
An auction of important Russian pictures at Christie's was a great success. Four paintings were sold for over $1 million each. One of them, Aivazovsky's "St. Isaac Cathedral on a Frosty Day" was bought for a record $2 million, Kommersant reports. Buyers from Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as some dealers and collectors from Paris, attended the event at Christie's in King Street. The auction began with less expensive items, as the catalogue is always drawn up to allow buyers to "warm up" before the main attractions go under the hammer. This precaution, however, proved to be unnecessary: there was competition even for relatively inexpensive pictures. A work by Nikolai Sverchkov easily entered the record books, when his painting "Emperor Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm I in a Horse-Drawn Carriage near the Petropavlovsk Fortress" was sold for £300,000 (the auction house's commission of about 12% will be added to the final sum). The buyer was an anonymous collector, and the director of Christie's Russian division, Alexis de Tiesenhausen, received his bids over the phone. A preliminary valuation of Aivazovsky's "St. Isaac Cathedral," which was painted in 1891 and already publicly auctioned 15 years ago, was £1-1.5 million. The auctioneer opened the bidding at £550,000, but it went very slowly and cautiously, with long pauses, both in the room and on the phone. Finally, the record was broken and the painting sold to an anonymous buyer for £1 million ($1,889,000). Immediately afterwards Ivan Shishkin's "Forest Landscape" was sold for £680,000, a record for the painter. Konstantin Somov's small painting "The Stroll" (1918) was likewise sold for a record £220,000. There was also unprecedented bidding for an Ilya Repin picture. His sketch for the painting "Portrait of the Painter's Family in an Apartment at the Arts Academy in St. Petersburg" (1905) was sold for £900,000. The final sum will be $2 million. Bidding for the "Street Seller in Ancient Greece" by Genrik Semiradsky, an academic and elegant painter, stopped at £650,000
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