Click to enlarge

Russia’s super rich have been losing money as the Ukraine crisis escalates but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stop splurging on Russian art. International auction houses are nervously awaiting the results of the next Russia Art Week sales that open in London in less than two weeks’ time. Read more

Museum Nicholas Roerich, Moscow

Depositors who lost their savings when Russia’s Master Bank was closed down last week can at least hope for some compensation from government-backed insurers. But there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for the museum in Moscow that depends on Master Bank’s now discredited chairman for a living.

Boris Bulochnik has not been seen in public since the Russian central bank revoked Master Bank’s license last week citing “large scale suspicious operations” and a Rbs2bn balance sheet hole. Read more

Russian collectors are a growing force on the booming global art market, where prices for trophy works are beating all-time records. But it is Russian art that will take centre stage next week as leading auction houses in London offer an eclectic range of important works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Russian art is not yet fully appreciated by international connoisseurs. But rich Russians can’t get enough of it. They’re prepared to fork out huge sums for a slice of their national heritage. Read more

The first time the bidding reached one million up went a cheer. Some delivered bids by phone; others waved their paddles or just a pair of specs; others still jiggled their legs as they decided whether to break upper limits decided in cooler moments. After all, the champagne was flowing, the warm room turned febrile and bidding resembled competitive volleys.

By the time the auctioneer put his gavel down on all 47 works, it was clear that east Africa’s first art auction – held in Nairobi this week – was a huge hit, exploding into impromptu applause and whoops in stark contrast to usually poorly attended and rarefied western counterparts. Read more

So far, China has been the emerging market worth watching in the art world. Now, the big boys are getting serious about India, too.

Christie’s said this week it would hold its first auction in Mumbai in December. Read more

The quality of Chinese infant milk is not just an issue for mothers and the market – now Ai Weiwei, the artist Beijing most loves to hate, has been inspired by the formula scandals to create a piece of protest art.

The dissident artist told the South China Morning Post that his new sculpture, to be unveiled in Hong Kong next week at an exhibition dedicated to the history of epidemics, was inspired by the continuing crisis over the quality of mainland infant milk – a crisis that has had repercussions around the world, with grocery stores as far away as the UK restricting sales as mainland consumers rush to procure safer supplies overseasRead more

By Georgina Adam

The Chinese art market, which in 2011 was reported to have leapfrogged the US to become the largest in the world, took a severe battering in 2012 and may have already lost its number one position, according to the front-page story in February edition of The Art Newspaper.

According to the publication, sales at China’s two largest auction houses, Poly Auction and China Guardian, have plummeted by more than half. Poly, part of a conglomerate which also includes the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, saw sales drop from $1.9bn in 2011 to $965m in 2012. China Guardian reported $1.8bn in 2011 but just $820m in sales in 2012. Read more

Roman Abramovich is (slightly) better known for his ostentatious spending on yachts, cars and Chelsea Football Club than his forays into the art world.

But he has recently made headlines among Russian art lovers with the purchase of works by Ilya Kabakov, the most expensive living Russian artist, from a US collector. Russians are hoping Abramovich will bring the Kabakov trove home to Russia. Read more

Last year’s debate between Paul Krugman, the renowned Nobel-prize-winning American economist, and little Estonia produced plenty of drama.

Now, it’s going to be an opera. Read more

Source: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

Warsaw’s museum of modern art is planning to open its doors for the first time on Friday, but any thoughts about the exhibition called “City for Sale”are being overshadowed by a fight over the building in which the museum is located.

The museum was supposed to have established itself in a prestige new construction designed by Swiss architect Christian Kerez. But the city pulled the plug on the project for aesthetic and financial reasons, and so the museum is setting up in a 1970s glass-fronted building that used to house a furniture shop. Read more

There is a chill in the air as Sotheby’s opens its Hong Kong autumn sales on Friday, and it’s not because the worst of the summer heat is over.

This week is China’s “Golden Week”, traditionally the public holiday when the world’s most populous country goes on holiday and spends a lot of money abroad. But retailers in Hong Kong – the most popular destination for mainland tourists – have noticed a sharp fall off in sales growth this year. Read more

While multibillion dollar scandals have been making headlines during the financial crisis, here’s a cautionary story from the Gulf about what went wrong when a boutique investment bank was found by regulators to have breached the rules in accounting for the the value of eight contemporary Iranian art works.

Dubai investment bank Arqaam Capital and its auditor, Ernst & Young, have been fined $50,000 each by Dubai’s regulator for contraventions of accounting rules in relation to the valuation of eight art works by a renowned Iranian artist. Read more

Flying through a period of renewed turbulence following a protracted pilot strike, troubled state airline Air India is now looking to its valuable collection of high art to help keep it aloft.

The state carrier hopes to raise money through its valuable art collection, which includes Indian antiquities – including woodcarvings and sculptures – and around 18 works by contemporary masters such as the late MF Husain. Read more

Is the retreat by mainland Chinese buyers to be blamed for a 32 per cent drop in total sales at Christie’s spring auctions in Hong Kong, which concluded on May 30?

No, says the auction house’s Asian chairman. It’s the sellers. The reserve prices for some items were set too high on the vendors’ insistence, says François Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia. This may well have been the case for Wednesday’s sale of imperial Chinese ceramics and works of art, where over a third of the lots were left unsold. Read more

Art dealers often joke that one of “3Ds” is needed for great art works to come to the market – default, death or divorce. In the case of the South Korean savings bank scandal, which rocked the country last year, it’s default.

Seoul Auction, a leading auction house, will offer for sale 65 paintings in Hong Kong on Tuesday, including 10 works that state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp seized from
ailing savings banks. It has already sold four such savings bank paintings in a domestic auction. Read more

Sotheby’s has just announced its roadshow schedule ahead of the spring auctions in Hong Kong. This year, it has added the Chinese city of Chengdu to the list of stops.

Best known for pandas and tea houses, the provincial capital of Sichuan province has never really been on the international art world map, and Sotheby’s exhibition is not going to change that. But it is a sign of the times. Read more

Christie’s, the auction house, sold less in this year’s autumn sales in Hong Kong than it did last year, the first year-on-year decline since 2008 and evidence that Asian demand for art is finally cooling.

Having been clobbered in 2009, auction houses in the city – both large and small alike – are hoping to weather any coming storm by looking to both new buyers, and new types of art. Read more

The wealthy in China are credited with propping up everything from the fine wine market in Bordeaux to property prices in Hong Kong. They have certainly been a formidable force in the international art market, where they have moved from making up just 5 per cent of Asian demand, to nearly half today.

Chinese art collecters have been particularly keen on works from their own country. So it came as a surprise that the highly anticipated Meiyintang sale in April fetched substantially less than pre-sale estimates.

 Read more