Originally rediscovered in Europe, the two paintings were repatriated, restored and reframed and were to be offered for sale with pre-sale estimates of $350,000 to $450,000 each, their absence taking much of the lustre off their first major sale of 2017. At the mid-point of the estimates, the two paintings represented just under 40% of the total estimate of the sale of $1.7 to $2.4 million.
The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie that wrought death and destruction recently on Australia's eastern seaboard hit Auckland on the day of the sale, and heavy rain delayed the start of the sale.
When the sale did get underway there were few auction highlights until Banner, Land Protest (Lot 30 ) a key work from 1992 by Chinese / Maori artist Buck Nin was offered for sale. Bidding starting at the low estimate of $10,000 and it quickly rose to sell for $30,000, double the upper estimate of $15,000.
The large painting had been held in a family collection of a leading Maori artist since it was painted
A fine gouache on paper, Methodist Chapel (Lot 43 ) by Frances Hodgkins with an estimate of $120,000 - $160,000 failed to attract a bid at $90,000, in common with most of the big ticket items did not attract bids or generate much excitement on the night.
The highest price on the night went to a fine oil by Raymond Ching for his large oil on board entitled Flotilla (Lot 56 ) depicting various species of waterbirds moving forward in formation, which sold well for $100,000
One of the sales few bright spots was a small unsigned and undated Portrait of a Young Maori Woman (Lot 64 ) attributed to Gottfried Lindauer, which attracted strong bidding from the floor selling for $60,000 against a top end estimate of $40,000.
The interest in the works of Gottfried Lindauer has grown rapidly recently with a major exhibition at Auckland's Art Gallery of his paintings and the photographs that form the basis of most of his major works
Two paintings reflecting local views also reflected the rather uneven nature of the sale. A fine painting of one of Auckland's fashionable streetscapes, Vulcan Lane (Lot 65 ) by Peter McIntyre who is noted for his paintings of Wellington's built environment selling well for $21,000.
And a very rare ''Heidelberg style'' painting of Auckland's Waitemata harbour, View of the Waitemata (Lot 77 ) by an artist with no track record to speak of, Harold William Young, sold for a mere $3,500 which was below the low end of the estimate of $4,000 and was definitely the bargain of the night
Now we all know that the auction isn't over until the last lot is sold, and a rather small and insignificant drawing, Racehorses, (Lot 107 ) in a curiously 'Rembrantesque' manner by Garth Tapper caught all of the tail enders by surprise, With an upper estimate of only $600, it sold to a bidder in the room for $3,100, illustrating that old truism about the ''sting in the tail'' and or that the one about the rather large opera singer....I just forget how that one goes.....