Paintings by Mark Rothko are believed to be the most expensive, if compared to other Russian artists. Its White Center (1950) was sold for 72.8 million dollars plus it is the 12th most expensive painting in the world. However, Rothko was a Jew who left Russia at age 10. So, we will cross him out from our list of most expensive paintings by Russian artists.
№ 1. Kazimir Malevich – 60 million dollars.
Suprematist Composition, 1916 (Sotheby’s, 2008)
The painting was created in 1916 and stayed with the artist until June 1927. Malevich exhibited his work in the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in Berlin, but was soon to leave for the USSR. The painting soon went to German architect Hugo Hering, who then sold it to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. It stayed there for the next 50 years. After 17 years of legal battle over the painting’s ownership, the painting was returned to heirs of the artist. In November, 2008 they sold it at an auction. In 2012, they returned another painting by their prominent ancestor taking it away from a museum in Switzerland.
№ 2. Wassily Kandinsky — 22.9 million dollars.
Fugue, 1914 (Sotheby’s, 1990)
This painting is exposed in a private museum in Switzerland and each person can enjoy it. It was lucky to skip the time when auctions were filled with reckless Russian buyers purchasing paintings for their private collections to never show them anyone.
№ 3. Alexej von Jawlensky — 9. 43 million pounds.
Schokko with Wide-Brimmed Hat, about 1910 (Sotheby’s, 2008)
The painting depicts a country girl living off Munich. Schokko is not her real name. It’s her nickname. She was nicknamed so because the girl who posed for the painting would always ask the artist for a cup of coffee.
№ 4. Marc Chagall — 16.3 million dollars.
Jubileum, 1923 (Sotheby’s, 1990)
It depicts a flight with the artist’s wife, the story which may be found in many paintings by Chagall. The painting dates to 1923. However, in New York, there is a similar painting called Birthday and it was created in 1915.
№ 5. Natalia Goncharova — 6.43 million pounds.
Spaniard, 1916 (Christie’s's, 2010)
The majority of her works are rather expensive (her Flowers was sold for 5.52 million pounds) but we decided to include just one painting of each painter into our list.
Recently, they found over 300 paintings by Goncharova unknown to the public and may be they will be put up for auctions.
№ 6. Nicolai Fechin — 6.95 million pounds.
The Little Cowboy, 1940 (MacDougall’s, 2010)
Born in Kazan, Nicolai immigrated to the USA in 1923. His works are displayed in different countries but the largest collection is situated at the Fechin Center in Kazan. It is unclear why the price for his painting skyrocketed (in spring 2010, this very painting was sold for just 600,000 dollars). Some say that it might have been done on purpose, to artificially inflate prices on his art in general.
№ 7. Ilya Repin — 4.52 million pounds.
Parisian Café, 1875 (Christie’s, 2011)
This painting was exhibited just three times since a collector from Sweden purchased it 95 years ago.
№ 8. Vasily Polenov — 4.07 million pounds.
Who Among You is Without Sin? 1908 (Bonhams, 2011)
This painting might have been lost forever because it was to be transported to the USA by Titanik. Luckily, it didn’t.
№ 9. Konstantin Somov — 3.7 million pounds.
Rainbow, 1927 (Christie’s, 2007)
The painting was purchased for this huge sum in 2007, the year before the economic crisis broke out. It became the most expensive painting bought during Russian Auction Week, several days when auctions sell Russian Art only.
№ 10. Ilya Kabakov — 2.9 million pounds.
Beetle, 1985 (Phillips de Pury, 1998)
Ilya Kabakov is the soul of Moscow conceptualism whose works have become the dream of any collector.