Even though their two international drawcards failed to find buyers, Menzies Art Brands produced one of the most successful Australian art auctions of the year with their 6th December sale, the last major Australian art auction of the year, which achieved a total of $5,540,339 IBP.
Disappointingly, the most valuable lot of the sale, Andy Warhol’s Head After Picasso, failed to find a buyer at the $900,000 - 1,200,000 estimate after selling in 2008 for $1,500,000. Takashi Murakami’s Eye Love SUPERFLAT, the other highly desirable international entry, also failed to attract enough interest to reach the $220,000 low estimate.
Unperturbed by the Warhol failure, a number of buyers fought it out for the next lot: Brett Whiteley’s Kurrajong. Estimated to bring $650,000 – 850,000, the lyrical landscape painting sold for $920,455 IBP – the highest price of the sale.
Charles Blackman’s whimsical Shrinking Alice and Lloyd Rees’ A Song to Creation – Land both shared the second highest price of the sale fetching $490,909 IBP against estimates of $340,000 – 420,000 and $350,000 – 450,000 respectively.
Russell Drysdale’s iconic image The Young Ringer was snapped up for $441,818 IBP against an estimate of $350,000 – 420,000 even though it had already been through the Menzies Art Brands auction rooms twice over the last three years.
John Perceval’s The Cornfield, exhibited as part of the Perceval retrospective exhibition in 1992, was another highlight selling for $398,864 against an estimate of $320,000 – 420,000.
John Brack continues to attract strong interest from investors and collectors. Selling for $398,864 IBP against an estimate of $380,000 – 480,000, the artist’s The Scissors Shop was last sold by Menzies Art Brands in 2011 when it made $600,000 IBP.
It wasn’t all bad news for the international artists represented in the sale. A fantastic bronze sculpture by famous French artist Aristide Maillol managed to buck the trend selling for $104,318 against an estimate of $90,000 – 120,000.
Overall, buyers were much more interested in the work of the Australian artists than they were with the work of the international artists. Buyers willing to re-offer works for the same or a lower price than they were bought for seems to have been a key factor in the success of the sale.