'The Bay of Naples' by Ivan Aivazovsky – £1.9m at Sotheby’s.

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Russian work takes highest online price

The latest sale of Russian art at Sotheby’s posted the highest individual price for a painting sold at an auction so far during the international lockdown.

However, the online sale’s overall total was 46% down on the equivalent live auction held last year.

The Bay of Naples by Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) – the biggest name in 19th century Russian art – was estimated at £800,000-1.2m in the timed online auction run from London and closed on June 2.

The 1878 work came from a private European consignor who had bought it at Koller Auktionen in Zurich for SFr2m (£985,270) including premium back in September 2008. In the 12 years since then prices for Aivazovsky have expanded significantly.

At the auction, it drew 16 bids and eventually sold at £1.9m. It was bought by a private European collector who will pay £2.3m once buyer’s premium is added.

The result surpassed the record for a painting sold in an online sale, which was set only last month when Giorgio Morandi’s Natura morta (Still Life) made $1.6m (£1.31m) including premium at a Sotheby’s auction run out of New York.

New Heritage HQ address announced

Heritage Auctions has confirmed the location of its new head office campus. The Dallas firm has moved from an 87,000 sq ft head office at Maple Avenue, as well as a warehouse and a saleroom in the city, to a new 160,000 sq ft facility.

The new building is next to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and in the airport’s foreign trade zone. Its new address is 2801 W Airport Freeway, Dallas, Texas.


Heritage Auctions’ new site next to Dallas airport.

Dürer stars in NY online print fair

A rare impression of Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut, The Rhinoceros, sold on the opening day of the International Fine Print Dealers Association’s (IFPDA) Fine Art Print Fair Online. It was offered by New York City dealer David Tunick for a six-figure sum.

It was one of several significant sales that launched the annual event’s first edition online. Originally set to open at New York City’s Javits Centre in May, it was moved online and its run was extended with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. It continues until June 13 with more dealers now participating with the event’s increased capacity.

IFPDA executive director Jenny Gibbs said: “I have heard from so many collectors and curators who are just loving this online event. We could never fit 125 exhibitors into the River Pavilion at the Javits.”

Other early sales included David Hockney’s 1976 Henry Reading the Newspaper, which Edward T Pollack Fine Arts offered for $7200, and Judy Chicago’s Through the Flower #2, which was priced at $3000 from Solo Impressions.

Mary Queen of Scots book for sale

A prayer book that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) will be offered at a Christie’s auction estimated at £250,000-350,000.

It was written and illuminated for Louise de Bourbon-Vendôme, abbess and head of the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud (1534-75). The manuscript is illuminated and decorated with a cycle of 40 miniatures painted by the Master of François de Rohan, one of the most sought-after artists of the court of Francis I (r.1515-47).

According to Christie’s, between 1558-61, the manuscript was given by Louise de Bourbon to her grand-niece Mary, who left a signed token of their mutual affection on one of the endleaves, along with her monogram, and her motto.


A prayer book once owned by Mary, Queen of Scots estimated at £250,000-350,000 at Christie’s on July 29.

Mary spent her childhood at the French court and became queen consort on her marriage to Francis II. However, his early death in 1560 led to her return to Scotland a year later.

After years of religious and political conflict she was found guilty in 1586 of plotting to assassinate her cousin and rival Elizabeth I and was beheaded the following year.

The prayer book came with Mary to Scotland in 1561 but it is not known who kept it immediately after her death. It is believed in the 18th century it was owned by the Hale family of Alderley, Gloucestershire. However, details of the vendor have not been made public by the auction house.

It will be offered on July 29 during Classic Week, which this year is a combination of online and live sales that are scheduled to run from July 1-29.

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The most viewed stories for week May 28-June 3 on

1 The grand reopening pushed back to June 15 for auction houses and antiques shops in England

2 Mary Queen of Scots’ prayer book comes to auction in London

3 Roman bronze arm leads Daniel Katz sale at Sotheby’s

4 Runway Monday could restart IACF’s fair schedule

5 Delft tulip vase and Victorian carriage clock are among five auction highlights that caught bidders’ eyes

In Numbers


The year-on-year percentage fall in sales worldwide at Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips during May 2020. According to data from Pi-eX, the total of $93m was the lowest ever for the month of May (since its records began in 2007). The total in May 2019 was $2.9bn. The fall is mainly due to postponements amid Covid-19 and the big sales are now timed for later this summer. The auction houses hope to make up some of the deficit during the usually quieter summer months.