James Butterwick.

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1 What is your area of expertise?

Primarily Russian modernist art from around 1890-1930. This is the most interesting period to me because it’s when Russian art became the equal of European art.

2 How did you get your start?

My family was always keen that I went into the art world. My grandfather was head of silver at Sotheby’s and my godfather was the president of Sotheby’s Parke Bernet in New York, so it seemed like a good career for me. I did Russian and history of art at university and got a grad place at Sotheby’s in 1987. But I can’t stand institutions and wanted to get into Russia, and I went into the dealing world in 1988.

3 How did you become a whistle-blower in the world of Russian art?

It started in 2011 when books were published on the artist Natalia Goncharova that included large

numbers of fakes. I was part of a seminal press conference held with the Russian News and Information Agency when we stated our despair that such books could have been produced.

4 What is exciting about the business at the moment?

Being asked to exhibit at TEFAF several years ago was a monster positive because there’s been this shadow over Russian art. People are aware of how much faking there is in this market, and I was the first gallery dealing in early 20th century Russian art to stand there. Another highlight was selling paintings by Alexander Bogomazov (1880-1930) to the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. Now I’m coming to Masterpiece and will be staging an exhibition of Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) pictures there.

5 What is the best exhibition you’ve seen recently?

Brueghel in Vienna, which I travelled specially to see. It was mind-blowing. Even though they were painted in the 16th century, these pictures are macabre and almost modern, many of them poking fun at superstition.

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