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Bonhams & Goodman Australian and International Art Auction Record Results

On April 23rd in Melbourne, several hundred people watched Bonhams & Goodman sell over $4million of Australian and International Art with new record results.

The sale at the Melbourne rooms commenced with vigour as lot 1, ten works on paper relating to the Burke and Wills expedition, were hotly contested. The works by an unknown artist had impeccable provenance; they were the property of the descendants of William John Wills and had never before been offered at auction. The works had a collective auction estimate of $60,000-$80,000 and exceeded this estimate substantially, eventually selling to an anonymous buyer on the telephone for $144,000. The result bodes well for the Burke and Wills breastplate which is to be offered by Bonhams at an auction in Sydney on 20 May.

The general market for traditional Australian art was unusually buoyant with six watercolours by S.T Gill (1818-1880) all selling above estimate. A beautiful oil on canvas by Margaret Preston (1875-1963) titled Australian Still Life 1938 went over estimate fetching $156,000 against $80,000-120,000.

joel-elenberg-auction.jpgArguably the highlight of the sale was lot 77, a bronze created by Joel Elenberg (1948-1980) titled Mask 1980 (Illustrated). The sculpture set a new auction record for the artist selling for $384,000 against an estimate of $100,000-140,000, over six times the highest estimated price. Interest in Elenberg’s work has increased substantially in recent years due to the fact that he was not prolific (Elenberg died at the age of 32) and his work is tightly held and limited in supply.

Albert Tucker (1914-1999) continued to be a star performer at auction echoing record results established for the artist by Bonhams & Goodman in recent months. Lot 68 John Batman Encounters Eliza Callaghan 1971 sold for $168,000 against an estimate of $80,000-120,000 and lot 87 Confronting 1992 fetched $426,000 (estimate $250,000-350,000), one of the top five highest prices on record for the artist.

Approximately 220 people attended the auction and phone bidding was also popular. Statistically the sale performed extremely well. Out of the series of recent auctions, the percentage sold of 94% was by far the highest result. The total result of the auction was $4,098,712.

“This is a brilliant result and evidences the importance of selectivity and research when consigning art for sale on the secondary market,” said Geoffrey Smith, National Head of Art and a director at Bonhams & Goodman. “Collectors are very discerning in this current economic climate. It’s my job to ensure that works offered for sale reflect aesthetic significance and astute investment potential. Research into provenance, exhibition history and literature and the ability to pass on certain works is critical to this process”, added Smith.

The next Bonhams & Goodman Australian and International art auction will take place in Sydney on 26 August and will include major works by Brett Whiteley that have already been consigned.

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