Top art works reach $3.5 million
Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:57p.m.
By Ali Ikram
Art buyers tonight paid $3.5 million for works by the country's top contemporary artists.
It's understood to be a record for the sale of a private collection in this country .
It was standing room only with every man and his dog at the auction. Those in the know were saying it would set the benchmark for contemporary art prices in this country.
Potential bidder John Perry was hoping for something special.
“I don't honestly think there has been a collection of contemporary New Zealand paintings that has come on to the market, well, ever. This is a landmark in many, many ways.”
Businessman Hugh Fletcher was also in attendance.
“I expect prices tonight to be above good purchasing prices," he says.
An early indication that this wasn't going to be a night for the faint hearted came with lot 16, Gordon Walter’s painting number seven.
Watching it all from a side room via closed circuit TV was Milly Paris who, along with late husband Les, built up the country's largest private art collection. It was a labour of love over half a century.
Mrs Paris has had to part with the whole lot because she's moving to Australia.
“Each painting has a story and a lovely story of how it came into the collection,” she says.
Out on the auction floor that love was being turned into cold hard cash as the great names went under the hammer.
A Hotere, an Illingworth and a Smither each went for $200,000 and a McCahon went for $250,000.
A total of $3.5 million changed hands in one night, and auctioneer Ben Plumbly couldn’t believe it.
“It's mind blowing, it's a fantastic result. I think the most an auction has done in New Zealand is $4 million so we may beat that tomorrow depending on how it goes. If it goes anything like that it will.”
And it's not finished yet - 160 lots go under the hammer tomorrow night.
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