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Sotheby's Holds Moscow Show to Promote Russian Sales in London

John Varoli,

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) – Sotheby's, the world's second-largest auction house, opens an exhibition tomorrow of two dozen Russian paintings to promote sales in London on Nov. 26 and 27 that may total 36 million pounds ($75 million).

The show, which runs through Nov. 11 and will be at the State Historical Museum on Red Square, features top lots for Sotheby's inaugural Evening Sale of Russian Art on Nov. 26, including Natalia Goncharova's ''Bluebells,'' (circa 1909), with an estimate of 3 million to 5 million pounds. There'll also be art by Ivan Aivazovsky, Wassily Kandinsky and Mikhail Larionov.

Sotheby's Nov. 26 auction has a total presale estimate of 15 million pounds to 23.4 million pounds. The Nov. 27 auction has a presale estimate of 8.7 million pounds to 12.6 million pounds.

Russia is in its ninth year of economic growth, and an expanding class of the newly wealthy is buying art for reasons that range from investment to home decorating or building up collections.

''The top end of the Russian art market is still growing, and Russian collectors want to acquire the best and rarest art works,'' said Jo Vickery, head of Sotheby's Russian art department in London, in an interview. ''Goncharova's 'Bluebells' is a museum-quality work, which would fit in with any major collection of international impressionist and modernist art.''

''Bluebells,'' which comes from the Schreiber Collection in New York, is a brightly colored floral still life inspired by Matisse's Fauvism. The artist painted it when she wasn't yet 30, a period when she produced some of her greatest works.

Goncharova's painting, ''Picking Apples,'' (circa 1909) sold in June for 4.94 million pounds at Christie's Impressionist and Modern painting sale in London.

Goncharova and Larionov, her husband, are considered among the leading Russian avant-garde painters of the 20th century. They lived and worked in Moscow, but fled Russia after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, and took up residence in Paris in 1921. They eventually became French citizens.

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