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Russian paintings fetch top dollar in New York

Works by Russian artists have fetched more than $US 17 million at Christie's auction house in New York. That’s around $US 5 millions more than organisers had been expecting.

IAlmost 300 items went under the hammer in total. The most expensive by far was ‘The Forest Clearing’ by 19th-century painter Ivan Shishkin, which sold for just under $US 3 million.

In second place was a painting called ‘Heat of the Earth’ by painter and philosopher Nikolay Rerich. His masterpiece was eventually sold for $US 769,000, well above the estimate of $US 180,000.

Experts say there's been soaring interest in Russian art recently. Sotheby’s sales of Russian works have quadrupled in the last four years.