Bonhams Sale of South African Art Set to Make R70m (£5m) by Taking Local Artists to a World Audience

Bonhams’ auction of “The South African Sale” on 30th January 2008 is destined to herald a new and exciting direction for the South African art market. Until now the market has been largely the preserve of domestic South African collectors, but this is changing.

The South African art movement of the early twentieth century is now internationally recognised in its own right and collectors across the globe are seeking the leading artists of this school. Naturally this is having a dramatic effect on prices achieved for the works that come to on the international market.

Bonhams’ sales in London have been at the forefront of this change. By offering South African paintings at the heart of the international market Bonhams is ensuring that its clients achieve this true and newly enhanced value for their paintings.

Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art Sales at Bonhams comments: “The increase in values should be seen as a positive consequence of market demand and as an encouraging affirmation of the artist’s work. It is certain that if Irma Stern were alive today she would have revelled in the international exposure and acclaim that her work is receiving. In fact she once said in reference to her work “The atmosphere all over the world was negative”.

“It has been suggested that the sales in London are in some way contributing to a removal of heritage objects from South Africa. In fact the contrary is the case, in our last auction the majority of paintings sold were consigned by clients outside South Africa and subsequently imported to South Africa. So repatriating a large body of artwork that had previously not been available for South African collectors and institutions.”

With a top estimate of ZAR 70 million (£5 million) the auction on 30th January is the highest value sale of South African Art ever to have been held and it will undoubtedly set new bench marks for the prices of many artist’s work.