More than 100 pieces in major NZ art auction
Thu, 26 Jul 2012 9:54a.m.
By Kim Choe
More than 100 pieces of New Zealand art will be auctioned off in Auckland tonight, and could fetch over $2 million.
The auction house is expecting strong sales even in tough economic times, as people look to art as a safe investment.
“There are several key pieces. It's always nice to have something major in a sale, but we've got a dozen major works at least in this particular sale,” says International Art Centre director Richard Thomson.
Among them is ‘Opening’ painted in 1988 by Sir Peter Siddell. It currently belongs to Kiri Te Kanawa, and looks set to earn the opera singer around $150,000.
Mr Thomson says sales haven't suffered in tighter economic conditions.
“I think it's going very well. I think when things are tough then perhaps there are opportunities there for buyers because there may be more sellers than there might've been.”
He says the value of a piece of art is in more than just how it looks, or who painted it. The work's condition, who has owned it and where it has been exhibited can also add value.
Enthusiasts, like art writer and collector Hamish Keith, say that because of art's subjectivity it shouldn't be bought purely as a financial investment.
“I like to say that I've never bought a work of art – they've always bought me.”
Art+Object art director Ben Plumbly agrees collecting art is about more than just cash value.
“The number of people who come up to me today and say, ‘I've got x amount of money, what should I be buying?’ Those sorts of lazy shortcuts are never going to result in a great collection.”
In September, Mr Plumbly will auction off more than half of the country's largest private collection of New Zealand art – one of the best examples of how collecting well can pay off.
Milly Paris and her late husband Les amassed nearly 500 works over 48 years, including paintings by Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere, and Don Binney.
“The astuteness of their eye, their dedication and commitment to all fields of collecting, the lack of ego and the self-effacement for which they've gone about it – it's all about the art, and it's all about the artists,” says Mr Plumbly.
None the less, the sale is expected to raise between $3 million and $4 million.
“You own it for as long as you possibly can. If you invest, you'll buy and wait until the price goes up. I kind of think that's a cold-blooded business – and there's nothing cold-blooded about this business,” says Mr Keith.
In other words, Mr Keith says, art isn't something that can be sold just to pay for the groceries.
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