Works by Russians and Old Masters bring big money at Gene Shapiro sale

NEW YORK CITY – A stylized and historical acrylic on canvas portrait of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, done in 1989 by the Russian artist Semyon Faibisovich (b. 1949) and originally intended as cover art for an issue of TIME magazine, soared to $144,000 at an auction of important Russian art and other works held April 17 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.

Gene Shapiro Auctions, LLC, a fine arts auctioneer of European and American art and a leader in the burgeoning field of Russian art, conducted the sale. The auction date was timed so it would fit nicely between Russian art sales held by Sotheby’s (on April 15-16) and Christie’s (on April 18), also in New York.

“I am very happy that we are now holding our sales in New York,” Shapiro said. “Many major buyers from Russia and Europe came and participated in the auction. It was great to see them physically there in person instead of only on the phones.” He added, “What was really interesting to see was that many of the Old Masters works were purchased by Russian clients as well.”

The Faibisovich painting was the top lot of the more than 250 works that crossed the block. About 90 percent of the offerings were by Russian artists, but the auction also featured works by European Old Masters, as well as 19th-century European paintings and genre scenes. Phone and absentee bidding, boosted by the international flavor of the sale, was very strong. facilitated Internet bidding on eBay Live.

Following are other results from the sale. All prices quoted include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

Two paintings by Russian David Burliuk (1882-1967) were standouts: one was a 32-inch by 26-inch oil on canvas executed in 1945 and titled Flowers by the Sea ($57,600); the other was a 20-inch by 24-inch oil on canvas titled Australia ($48,000). Both works sailed past their high estimates; both were signed by the artist.

A 15½-inch by 10¾-inch charcoal on paper by Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955), went for $19,200. The work drew intense bidder interest from buyers in Russia and the U.S.

The sale’s second top lot was a 70-inch by 70-inch oil on canvas executed in 2001 by contemporary Russian artist Natalia Nesterova (b. 1944), titled Reflections ($90,000). Two works brought identical prices of $72,000: Landscape With Cow (1974), by Oscar Rabin; and View of the Church of Boris and Gleb, Kostroma, Winter (1919) by Konstantin I. Gorbatov (1876-1945).

Gene Shapiro Auctions, LLC’s next sale will be in New York sometime in the fall, most likely in October. Visit for more details as fall approaches.