The Year in Review: A Memorable 2012 for Mossgreen Auctions

The Year in Review: A Memorable 2012 for Mossgreen Auctions
"Portrait of the Walker Children" by Benjamin Duterrau
(Courtesy Mossgreen Auctions)

Sydney based art and antique auctioneers Mossgreen made the most of tough market conditions in 2012 with a continued focus on single owner collections which paid dividends time and time again throughout the year.  Twenty-twelve saw Mossgreen rise to number one in Australia for the sale of decorative arts and antiques while at the same time establishing some 27 new auction records in for Australian artists, many of whom are living, working artists. 

Building on the success of 2011, the Sydney-based auction house held no less than 20 auctions during the year the highlights of which were the indigenous art collection of American entrepreneur John Kluge, who died in 2010, and the sale of property from Sydney antique dealers Martyn Cook and Thomas Hamel.

The Kluge Collection was 100% sold and set many artist records while the Martyn Cook/Thomas Hamel sale realised $2.1 million against a pre-sale estimate of $1.4 million. The 66 lots from the Kluge Collection grossed $586,800 against pre-sale estimates of $330,900-452,900.

Ending the year on somewhat of a high, the Mossgreen spring auction series again produced some outstanding results as well as some uncharacteristic failures.  Results of the November auctions were definitely mixed but followed a clear pattern. “Single owner collections continue to outperform multiple vendor auctions by very significant amounts,” commented Mossgreen director Paul Sumner.

The mixed-vendor auction of Australian art on 22 November was not well received and the sold by lot rate was only 30% of those offered. As a result of this, Mossreen will review the way it handles Australian art in a multi-vendor sense for 2013 as clearly it has been more successful selling Australian art within single owner collections.

The 11th November auction of the collection of the late Dr John Clemente and his wife Ruth saw a portrait by English painter Benjamin Duterrau (1767-1851) sell for $96,876 against an estimate of $80,000-100,000 to Australian landscape painter Philip Wolfhagen.  Considered one of Tasmania's finest collections of art and antiques, the sale of the collection of the Hobart-based Clemente family fetched a total of $526,881 (IBP) against an estimate of $463,530.

The full day session of Chinese art and antiques on the 23rd of November was one of the most successful for some time with 95% sold by value for Chinese art and a very high 85% by value sold for the antiques sections which has proven to be a tough market in recent years.  

Mossgreen Gallery also saw growth in sales during 2012 boosted greatly by the very successful Melbourne Art Fair sell-out exhibition of works by Kate Bergin.  The show for sculptor Deborah Halpern at the same fair as was also very well received. Overall, gallery sales increased to just over 1.3 million, a rise of just over 10% on the previous year, which is an encouraging result as the broader climate has not been the easiest backdrop for any gallery this year.