• Bianca Mafodda

Major Art Auction Houses Cancel Russian Art Auctions


As the war lead on by the Russian Federation has been spreading in Ukraine for a month now, the art auction world has not been standing silent in front of the outbreaking atrocities that are being brought on by the Russian Federation in these awful times.


Sotheby's New Bond Street location in London, © Sotheby's



Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the two main art auction houses, have decided to call off the upcoming London auctions of Russian Art auctions that were usually scheduled in June and that have always been a favourite among Russian collectors. The past Russian art auction held by Sotheby’s in London in November 2021 made a total of £17.7m, which has been described as the “higher [total] than that of all other auction houses holding Russian sales combined.”


A Sotheby’s spokesman declared that the auction house would not host the Russian art sale in June and that their “hearts and thoughts go out to all those affected by the Ukraine crisis and we are actively supporting those impacted by the tragic events unfolding in the region through corporate and employee fundraising”.


The London Russian art auction was one of the most popular among the Russian oligarchs. Within Putin’s inner circle are a lot of art collectors, such as Roman Abramovich, probably the most famous Russian art collector of these times and the co-founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and Petr Aven, a very powerful and rich collector who was planning opening a museum in Riga, Latvia.


As for the other major art auctions, there is not a common decision up until now.


The MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions, the auction house that specializes in Russian art, did not clarify its intentions on its upcoming sales, whereas the Bonhams auction house has also confirmed that it has cancelled its Russian sale in London the upcoming June.

The Phillips auction house has been particularly under scrutiny because of its Russian ownership: nevertheless, it has recently donated £5.8m coming from its evening sale of the 20th century and contemporary art to the Ukrainian Red Cross.


One thing is for sure: the war is affecting the art economy no less than it is affecting the rest of the worldwide economical balance.