SYDNEY—The Australian-owned fine art auction house Deutscher-Menzies, Melbourne, overtook both Sotheby’s and Christie’s in 2004 to become the Australian market leader in sales.
Owned by former Melbourne art dealer Chris Deutscher and, proprietor of the large industrial cleaning group Menzies International, Deutscher-Menzies in its seventh year of operation grossed a total of A$30.18 million ($21 million)—against A$24.04 million, or $16.8 million (including large sales of Aboriginal art) for Sotheby’s and A$16.6 million ($11.62 million) for Christie’s.
This was during a year in which the market shifted toward lower-priced contemporary art and the total turnover from all auction houses in Australia and New Zealand fell from A$91.8 million to A$86.13 million ($60 million), the Australian Art Sales Digest reports.
The Deutscher-Menzies figures include the only two A$1 million-plus paintings sales during the year—works by modernist Brett Whiteley and Impressionist Frederick McCubbin. This is the first time the Melbourne-based group has moved into the top spot, although in recent years it has been inching up on both Christie’s and Sotheby’s (if the Sotheby’s Aboriginal art sales of more than A$5 million are excluded).