MEET THE FOUNDERS
MARINA KOVALYOV, PARTNER
Marina Kovalyov is highly regarded in Russian-speaking communities worldwide as both a cultural and business leader. After years of serving as Senior Curator at the St. Petersburg Museum (Russia), Marina worked as a chief curator at the Costumes and Textiles department at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
In 1997 Marina Kovalyov co-founded the Russian American Foundation with the goal of building a bridge between the United States and former Soviet countries through art, cultural initiatives, and youth programming. Today, Russian American Foundation's initiatives are highly recognized for their ongoing support of cultural dialogue on national and international levels, among those: Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive Programs in the USA; NSLI-Y for Youth Scholarships to Study Language Abroad programs, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; Annual Russian Heritage Month®, founded in collaboration with the City of New York and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and currently supporter by Mayor Bill de Blasio, among many others.
Joined by her partner Sonya Bekkerman, Marina Kovalyov co-founded The Sonmar Group, LLC – highly successful international art consulting firm specializing in art curation. In 2017, as part of Astana Expo 2017, The Sonmar Group LLC for the first time presented in Kazakhstan the works of the legendary artist and philosopher Nicholas Roerich as part of the exhibition “In Search of Shambhala: Masterpieces from the Nicholas Roerich Museum New York”.
Marina Kovalyov is a recipient of numerous awards for her contributions. In 2017 she was honored by Mayor Bill de Blasio for her Outstanding Contributions to New York City. For three consecutive years from 2006-2008 she was recognized for “Contributions to the Successful Development of Cultural Life of New York City," and in 2005 she was honored by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for her Outstanding Contributions to New York City, among many others.
SONYA BEKKERMAN, PARTNER
Sonya Bekkerman is an art consultant with over 18 years of broad experience in the international art world.
She is a partner in The Sonmar Group, LLC., a consulting group that specializes in ideation and strategy for event production, international art curation, art acquisition, art collection formulation, planning and management. Together with her business partner Marina Kovalyov, The Sonmar Group brought the first art exhibition from an American museum “In Search of Shambhala: Masterpieces from the Nicholas Roerich Museum New York” to the National Museum in Kazakhstan to coincide with Expo 2017 Astana.
Previously Sonya Bekkerman was co-founder and CEO of Tondoart, an art application that transformed the way art buyers, investors and the millions of art-interested people understood and accessed the art market in the digital space. She was a Senior Vice President at Sotheby’s auction house, where she focused on 19th century European art and established the Russian art department in New York, which opened the Russian auction market in the USA. Sonya oversaw several hundred million dollars worth of sales during her 15 year tenure. She is considered one of the leading experts in Russian art worldwide. Sonya received her MA from Williams College. She is a delegate for the Wexner Foundation and Vice President of Divine Love World Charity, which supports humanitarian giving in Southern India. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to the arts.