In scenes redolent of market boom times, it was standing room only at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney as the greatly anticipated Laverty Collection of contemporary Australian indigenous and non-indigenous art went under the hammer with Bonhams
on Sunday March 24, 2013.
The mood was electric as more than 300 people crammed into the MCAs Foundation Hall, for the epic, almost five-hour long auction. Among the high profile bidders in the crowd was the unmistakable figure of School Education Minister and former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett.
The auction total of $5.05 million (including buyers premium) revived confidence in the market and established the Laverty Collection as the most successful contemporary art sale held in Australia. Clearance rates defied the current market trend 86.5 per cent of the 266 works on offer were sold, and the clearance by value was 84 per cent.
With 398 registered bidders, 239 of those in the room, competition for works was robust, resulting in at least nine major new artists records five of those for indigenous artists.
Within half an hour of the auction starting, the days first new artist record was set and greeted with rounds of applause. Peter Upwards October Still, from 1962, sold for $136,620 (including buyers premium), more than three times its lower estimate, demolishing Upwards previous record of $21,358 (including buyers premium). The result would have pleased the late Dr Colin Laverty, whose collecting urge was sparked in the 1960s by abstract painters such as Upward, Tony Tuckson and Michael Taylor.
Other major new records included:
Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Untitled (Rockhole Site of Marrapinti), 2006, $30,500 including buyers premium (previous record $10,755);
Aida Tomescu, Albastra III, 2002, $74,520 including buyers premium (previous record $36,600);
John Mawurndjul, Mardayin Ceremony, 1999, $111,780 including buyer's premium (previous record $90,227);
Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Untitled (Rain Dreaming at Nyunman), 1994, $219,600 including buyers premium (previous record $210,000).
Dick Watkins, The Mooche, 1968, $113,460 including buyers premium (previous record $33,400);
Paji Honeychild Yankarr, Jila Japirnka, 2002, $47,196 including buyers premium (previous record $7800);
Ildiko Kovacs, Boot, 2004, $89,424 including buyers premium (previous record $29,280);
Jan Billycan, Kirriwirri, 2007, $99,360 including buyers premium (previous record $19,200).
Bonhams chairman in Australia Mark Fraser said: The outstanding success of the Laverty auction shows that exceptional collections continue to perform well. The result marks a great start for Bonhams in 2013 and augurs well for the companys next big single-owner sale, the Reg Grundy and Joy Chamber-Grundy Collection, to be held in Sydney in June.