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Day Two of the Warwick and Kitty Brown Collection was reserved mostly for works on paper and smaller oils from their extensive collection. Opening with the classic Colin Mc Cahon ''mulitple'' from the Barry Lett Galleries of 1969 this powerful screenprint originally purchased for $3.00 in 1969 (12 for $36.00) sold well at $4,600 against its pre-sale estimate of $3,000 - $4,000 setting a standard that was to continue unabated for the remainder of the sale, creating some amazing prices for the lesser works on paper.
The two day sale of the Warwick and Kitty Brown Collection at Mossgreen-Webb's on the 17th and 18th of May was always going to be a big event in a raft of many different ways and it certainly was a momentous occasion.
The auction was the subject of a major build up with presale exhibitions of selected works held at Galleries in Auckland Wellington and Christchurch along with public speaking engagements by the surviving vendor, Warwick Brown, M.N.Z.M. lawyer, gallerist, writer, artist and collector.
The auction house produced an extensive and lavish 131 page catalogue to accompany the 2 day sale of 190 works and the auction was an eagerly awaited event in the auction calendar, with well over 200 people being present for the major works on day one. .
By all accounts so far this year, the non-Indigenous art market looks to be finally breaking out of its “decade of torpor”[i]. The results of Mossgreen’s Fine Australian Indigenous Art sale last night, however, would suggest that this sector, while not moribund, is still mired in a morass of its own making.
With a single owner core of 96 works, several of which sold at large discounts to their purchase prices, along with a few contemporary highlights from mixed vendors, and a dose of desperate dealer stock, the 193 lot sale was never going to be a Laverty or Vroom affair. And the market responded accordingly, with only 49% clearance by both number and value, and with the top ten lots all settling in the $20-50,000 bracket.
The art trade has little to fear from the increasing torrent of consignments from seniors down-sizing, if the response to the to the auction of Australian and International Fine Art and Sculpture at the Menzies Gallery in Sydney on May 11 is any guide.
Downsizing has added a new D to the lexicon of Ds driving the art market (death, debt and divorce). The sale grossed $7,099,282 IBP which was a respectable 84 per cent sold by value and 87 per cent by volume.
The response to the 136 lot offering of wall-demanding large paintings and space clogging sculpture resulted in a more than satisfactory return, if a wee bit short of what was hoped for.
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