SYDNEY—The sale of important Australian and International Art held on August 23, by Sotheby’s Australia, which is a Sotheby’s franchise owner, realized a buoyant $A4.9 million ($5.1 million) including premium, equal to 106.5 per cent by value and 78 per cent by volume. The presale estimate was A$4.1 million/4.9 million.
Strong bidding by Sydney dealer Denis Savill and an undisclosed client of Sotheby’s Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith, on the telephone, helped fuel the solid results.
The Frightened Bridegroom, 1958, an oil and tempera on board from Arthur Boyd’s “Half-caste Bride” series was knocked down to Smith for the lower estimate of $A1 million, or $A1.2 million ($1.25 million) with premium, marking a new record for the artist at auction.
Smith said that the result for the 67 works, of which 15 lots were unsold, vindicated the decision to make a tight offering based on fresh material. It proved that, contrary to some suggestions, the Australian art market was still very much alive and well.
However, the mood and overall demand were decidedly different at the debut auction of Australian art by Bonhams Australia in Sydney on the previous evening.
The August 22 offering of Australian and international fine art grossed $A1.8 million ($1.87 millon), falling well short of the the low estimate of $A4.3 million. This was equal to only 40 per cent sold by both lot and value. Auctioneer John Horwich, global director of the picture department at Bonhams in London, was obliged to call “passed” or “unsold” on 52 of the 93 lots offered, including some of the most expensive items in the sale.
Amid the better performing lots were those entirely fresh to the market. These included Still Life with a Lamp, ca. 1921-28, by Kathleen O’Connor, which made a record $A198,000 ($206,000), against an estimate of$ A80,000/100,000, to Sydney/London dealer Roger McIlroy