Sydney Morning Herald - Shields and swords set cracking pace at Sotheby's auction

Aboriginal Art Directory | 15.12.07

Peter Fish
December 15, 2007

Article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Sotheby's November 25 auction.

Quoted from the article:

If Tim Klingender was gnashing his teeth about a few unsold lots in Sotheby's recent Aboriginal and Oceanic Art sale in Paddington, it wasn't obvious this week.

The firm's Aboriginal specialist is proclaiming the event, held in Paddington on November 25, as his most successful end-of-year offering, with 88 per cent by value sold on the night and a slightly less outstanding 77 per cent of lots finding a new home. Another telling statistic: not one lot estimated at $50,000 or more failed to sell. Of course Sotheby's premier Aboriginal art show remains its midyear sale in Melbourne, from which a selection of works is showcased in advance in London and New York.

And, as we said recently, there was no sign of buyer doubts over Rover Thomas's works, despite questions over the provenance of some recent offerings and a Toorak couple being jailed for forging his paintings.

Thomas's Ruby Plains Massacre brought the top price of the sale at $360,000 and Bush Turkey At Frog Hollow brought a healthy $144,500. Mind you, Ruby Plains only just made the lower end of its estimate on the hammer price. Even Emily Kngwarreye, whose prices have fallen from their peaks in recent times, recorded an impressive price, with Wild Anooralya fetching well above estimate at $210,000.

Other Kimberley artists were also solid sellers. Paddy Bedford's Lerndijwaneman - Lightning Creek brought $120,000 and Winperrji (Police Rock Hole) an above-estimate $108,000, while Queenie McKenzie's Yoorlgooban Country sold for $36,000.

Tiwi bark paintings mostly sold within estimate, with Deaf Tommy Mungatopi's Moonlight On Sandbars fetching $24,000 and Moonlight On The Sea $16,800, though Coral Phases Of The Moon failed to reach its $40,000 to $60,000 estimate. Tiwi sculptor Declan Apuatimi must have come close to an artist record when his Purukuparli ironwood figure brought $12,000.

Another favoured name is Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, whose Story Of Two Brothers (Tjampitjinpa) from the collection of Janet Holmes a Court fetched $84,000 and Unknown Creek Plant brought $40,800.

Artefacts sold well, with shields from south-eastern and Western Australia proving hot items. A large parrying shield from south-east Australia, decorated with engraved bar and cross motifs with traces of red pigment, brought $22,800, while three parrying shields from central or western Victoria also engraved and infilled with red and white pigment sold as one lot for $28,800.

A large West Australian Wunda shield with typical zigzag incising brought an unexpected $18,000, while a tail-end lot with three other such shields brought $12,600. A north-east Queensland rainforest shield decorated in red, yellow, white and black sold for $28,800.

Klingender, who has been a force in the Aboriginal art market for more than a decade, said most of these shields would have fetched a little more than a tenth of these prices 10 years ago.


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Gallery: Sotheby's Australia
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