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Phillips to Sell Russian Contemporary Art Worth $7.2 Million

John Varoli, Bloomberg.Com

Phillips de Pury & Co. will seek to sell as much as 3.6 million pounds ($7.23 million) worth of Russian modern and contemporary art in London on Oct. 13.

The 65 lots offered include works by Soviet non-conformist artists of the 1970s and 1980s such as Erik Bulatov, Ivan Chuikov, Oleg Vassilyev, as well as by the contemporary art duo Dubossarsky & Vinogradov.

As Russia enters its ninth year of economic growth, in large part driven by high prices for oil, gas and metals, a growing class of wealthy Russians is collecting art.

''It is extremely satisfying to see these exceptional works entering the market at this time,'' Simon de Pury, chairman of New York-based Phillips, said in a statement. ''They will be seen by a wider audience and finally receive the attention that they deserve.''

This will be Phillips's first sale of Russian contemporary art. The company was founded in 2004 when former Sotheby's auctioneer De Pury acquired a majority stake in the 200-year-old London-based Phillips auction house.

De Pury organized Sotheby's 1988 sale of Russian Contemporary Art in Moscow, the first international auction held in Russia.

On Feb. 15, Sotheby's, the world's second-largest auction house, sold 2.63 million pounds of Russian contemporary art at its first sale in London of such works.

Soviet Reform

The consignor of the Oct. 13 sale, American collector John L. Stewart, purchased the works directly from the artists during perestroika, the period of Soviet reform from 1986 to 1991.

The top lots are three paintings by Bulatov: ''Soviet Cosmos'' (1977), with an estimate of 750,000 pounds to one million pounds; ''Perestroika'' (1989), with an estimate of 500,000 pounds to 750,000 pounds; and ''Winter'' (1989), with an estimate of 400,000 pounds to 600,000 pounds.

Bulatov, who has lived in Paris since 1992, officially worked as a children's book illustrator in Soviet times. During his free time he collaborated with other Moscow conceptualists such as Ilya Kabakov, Viktor Pivovarov, and Eduard Shteinberg.

Vassilyev's ''The Window'' (1988) has an estimate of 90,000 pounds to 110,000 pounds. Chuikov's ''Postcard, Fragment of Postcard, Fragment of Fragment'' (1984) and ''Fragment of Postcard Self-Portrait'' (1985) each have an estimate of 75,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds.

Phillips's sale of international contemporary art in London on June 22 featured Russian pieces that set records.

Highest Price

That sale's second most expensive lot was Kabakov's ''La Chambre de Luxe'' (1981), which sold for 2 million pounds on a top estimate of 600,000 pounds, making it the highest price paid for a Russian work of contemporary art. The previous Kabakov record was 254,400 pounds for ''Where Are They?'' that was set at Sotheby's Russian sale in London in May 2006.

Phillips also sold Bulatov's ''Ne Prislonyatsa (''Do Not Lean,'' 1987) for 916,000 pounds on a top estimate of 150,000 pounds. Bulatov's previous record was 198,000 pounds, set at Sotheby's Feb. 15 sale of Russian contemporary art.

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