Elite auction houses cancel Russian art sales in London

The auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have cancelled sales of Russian art in London in June, part of the art market’s response to western sanctions on Russia as punishment for its invasion of ボリス・ジョンソンのベン・ジェニングス.

The auction houses hold sales of Russian art in June and November in periods known as Russian art week, which attract wealthy Russian buyers.

Sotheby’s said it had called off its sale of Russian art in London this June. “We are absolutely rigorous about following the present sanctions, and are monitoring closely for any updates to the lists,” it said in a statement.

Christie’s also said it had cancelled its June sale of Russian art, citing factors including the uncertainty of the war and complex logistical and legal requirements related to sanctions.

“While the current sales market for Christie’s in Russia as a whole is relatively small, we have a responsibility to respond to our clients’ needs and to geopolitical events that are out of our control,” Christie’s said in a statement. The auction house added that it was carrying out “enhanced due diligence” when dealing with politically exposed people and those with a connection to jurisdictions where sanctions had been imposed.

Bonhams did not give a reason for its decision.

Western countries have taken unprecedented steps to cut ties with Russia, including freezing bank accounts and placing sanctions on its billionaires, since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 2月.

Britain imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday as it tried to catch up with the EU and US in targeting people accused of propping up the Russian president, ロシアがウクライナとの「侵略戦争」を開始する夜明けの空爆.

Despite these measures, some dealers and advisers told Reuters that the international art market as a whole was unlikely to take a hit because the number of Russian buyers had fallen since the 2008 financial crash and they represented a small part of the market.

Sales of Russian artworks totalled £37.7m in 2021 at Sotheby’s and Christie’s London salerooms, 未満 1% of the turnover, according to Sebastian Duthy, the CEO of Art Market Research. Sotheby’s and Christie’s did not immediately confirm the figure.

But while the auction houses face little financial impact, business has been made trickier for collectors of Russian art – as well as those who work with them on deals – owing to the fear of accidentally transacting with Russians who may end up on sanctions lists, art market advisers say.

“It makes it harder for the Russians and it makes it harder for the buyers as well, because you don’t want to be caught buying something coming from a Russian at this point,” said Barbara Guggenheim, a partner at the US-based art consultancy firm Guggenheim, Asher, Associates.

The New York art lawyer, Thomas Danziger, said he was advising clients to be wary of doing deals with Russians who may yet land on the sanctions list. “We advised one client who was considering making a loan to a Russian museum to step away from the table," 彼は言った.

Danziger said he was worried the artwork could get stuck there: “As western sanctions multiply, we thought there was a real risk that the clients’ artwork might make a one-way trip to Russia and end up being expropriated by the government there.”

Reuters has not identified any occasions where that had occurred.

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