Munch, Bacon and Warhol at Sotheby's Show

UnknownEdvard Munch's painting "Love and Pain" is expected to be sold for between $30 and $40 million at the auction.
There was little evidence of the financial crisis inside the new branch of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, at Gogolevsky Bulvar, where Sotheby's preview of its upcoming November auctions is exhibited.

"Some of you may have seen or read that we have economic trouble in the world. But I can assure that we are here to stay. We love Russia, and we will come here in good times and not so good times," said Lord Mark Poltimore, chairman of Sotheby's Russia. "One thing I can assure you is that good art correctly priced will always make good prices."

Inside are 50 works, most from the 20th century, from artists including Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, altogether valued at $200 to $300 million. The works will be sold at auctions in New York in November.

In the last two years, Russia's buyers have helped Sotheby's break world records for art sold at auction. Earlier this year, Francis Bacon's painting "Triptych, 1976" was bought by Roman Abramovich for $86 million. Sotheby's is predicting that Russia's art market will continue to blossom. "We are not just being optimistic, we are certain of our success," said Mikhail Kamensky, the general director of Sotheby's in Russia and the C.I.S.

The press conference took place in front of a Roy Lichtenstein work of a heavily pixelated man adjusting the nape of his collar. Titled "Half Face with Collar," the work is expected to sell for $15 to $20 million. Lichtenstein, one of the first members of the Pop Art movement, is famous for painting blown-up comic book images in the '60s.

In the same room was "Dollar Sign" by Andy Warhol, a giant blue and green dollar sign on an orange background, which is expected to sell for between $2.5 and $3.5 million.

One work which did not make it to Moscow is Kazimir Malevich's 1916 work "Suprematist Composition." The painting of diagonally intersecting rectangles came to Sotheby's directly from Malevich's heirs. "I think it is the greatest Russian work that has ever been sold at auction," said Lord Poltimore. Based on estimates, the work is expected to go for $60 million in New York.

Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch's painting "Love and Pain" is a rare find, as most of Munch's works are already housed in museums in Scandinavia. The painting of a pale red-headed woman leaning over and passionately clutching a man on her lap is expected to sell for $30 to $40 million.

The auction will also offer documents belonging to the first cosmonaut, Yury Gagarin. One of them is the account of a manned space flight performed by the Soviet spaceship Vostok on April 12, 1961. The documents were previously owned by businessman Ross Perot, but he is selling the letters and diaries to support a fund for space research.

Kamensky said Gagarin's words before his space mission encapsulated the feeling at Sotheby's. "I feel completely ready for the upcoming flight, my health is good, and I don't doubt the success of this flight."

Sotheby's top lots from the main New York autumn auctions runs to Sun. at The State Museum of Modern Art of Russian Academy of Arts, located at 10 Gogolevsky Bulvar, M. Kropotkinskaya.