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Nolan's Ned Kelly Masterpiece Breaks Australia's Auction Record
"First Class Marksman" painted by Australian artist Sidney Nolan is seen in this handout picture obtained March 25, 2010. "First Class Marksman" broke the Australian auction record for a painting on Thursday at Menzies Art Brands, when it sold for AUD $5.4 million dollars ($4.9 million). REUTERS/Menzies Art Brands.
SYDNEY.- "First Class Marksman" broke the Australian auction record for a painting on Thursday at Menzies Art Brands, when it sold for AUD $5.4 million dollars ($4.9 million).

“The painting was put to auction on 25 March at Sydney, with an estimated auction price of $3 million to $5 million,” said Mr Rod Menzies, Chairman of Menzies Art Brands. “We were thrilled to be entrusted with the sale of this important iconic work, which we believed would set a new benchmark for Australian art at auction. The previous highest price for an Australian work of art was $3.48 million, for a Brett Whiteley painting that was auctioned by Menzies Art Brands in 2007.”

“The ‘First-Class Marksman’ was the only painting in the Ned Kelly series retained by Nolan and is now the only painting in the series not in the National Gallery of Australia,” said Mr Roger McIlroy, of Nevill Keating McIlroy Ltd., art advisor to the Vizard Foundation. “The estimated price was in line with important works that have been sold in recent years both nationally and internationally. It was also reflective of expressions of interest received from interested possible purchasers.”

‘First-Class Marksman’ was acquired by the Vizard Foundation as a donation from Mr Stephen Vizard in 1992. It has since been on permanent display at the National Gallery of Victoria. It has also featured at several significant exhibitions in Australia and internationally, including at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

The proceeds of the sale will be wholly used by the Vizard Foundation to extend its support of a number of the Foundation’s charitable projects. These will include:

• A substantial donation to the National Gallery of Victoria.

• Providing funds to the University of Melbourne to enable the training of indigenous curators and to provide artistic and financial support for Australian artists.

• To extend the Foundation’s program of donation to underprivileged communities within Australia

“The NGV is saddened to lose this iconic Nolan but we appreciate the considerations of the Vizard Foundation,” said Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. “We have been lucky to enjoy the work on our walls for the past 20 years and acknowledge the generosity of the Vizard Foundation in allowing millions of visitors to see and appreciate this major work. We are also very grateful for the promise of a substantial donation to the NGV that will come through the sale of the painting, to support curatorial, educational and scholarly activities”.

Dr Chris McAuliffe, Director of The Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne said “The University of Melbourne has been fortunate to have enjoyed the long-term patronage of the Vizard Foundation and we are thrilled that we are to further gain from their philanthropy with the sale of this picture. Over the years, the Vizard Foundation has helped the University initiate innovative programs in art and cinema studies, and a decade-long acquisition campaign targeting contemporary art. With new support, we hope to pursue initiatives focused on mid-career artists and indigenous curators.”

“The Foundation’s decision to sell the painting was made easier by the sheer quality of the charitable projects that we will fund through the proceeds,” said Professor Andrew Vizard, Chairman of The Vizard Foundation. “I feel sure that Nolan would approve”.

Menzies Art Brands | "First Class Marksman" | Mr Rod Menzies | Ned Kelly |

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