By John Perry in Auckland, on 19-May-2017

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. .

Needless to say some impressive results were achieved from the first lot, a 1972 drawing of Harbour Cone (Lot 1 ) by Robin White selling for $28,000 against a presale estimate of $15,000-$25,000.This was followed by the cover lot, Don Driver's colourful assemblage For a Taranaki Day (Lot 2 ) which sold at the top end of the estimate range for $25,000.

A large masterwork by Don Binney sold for the top price of the sale at $455,000, setting a new record for a work sold at auction by the artist. This painting La Chute d'Icare, Pureora, Last Flight of the Kokako (Lot 18 ) had been originally produced to support a drive by conservationists to protect one of the last remaining stands of native podocarp forest in the central North Island in the late 1970's, had had an extensive exhibition history and was impregnated with a number art historical reference points. .

Works by Colin McCahon achieved the second and third highest prices on the night with Rocks in the Sky; Series 2 No. 4; Seagulls Rain (Lot 25 ) sold well at $307,000 just over the top end of the $300,000 estimate while his other major work on paper Angels and Bed (Lot 44 ) sold for $255,000 equidistant between the $200,000- $300,000 estimate.

 A strong and heavily charged political painting by Maori artist Ralph Hotere entitled This is a Black Union Jack (Lot 47 ) from 1983 sold very well to loud applause for $140,000. Produced by Hotere in the aftermath of the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour of N.Z. the stainless steel and enamel work supported its original eroded ''old gate'' hardwood frame made by Roger Hicken to compliment the original art work.

A large N.Z. landscape oil by Dick Frizzell graphically illustrating the metamorphosis of generations of exotic tree planting in the volcanic country of the central North Island and entitled Milling (Lot 23 ) sold for $80,000 to applause on the night, exceeding the top end of the estimate by $10,000, also setting a new record for a work sold at auction by the artist.

Warwick Brown has written a number of books on and about New Zealand art and artists, one of which was on the late Ian Scott, and as a result a number of his key works were included in the sale. These included his large format painting Daylight (Lot 49 ) that references Colin McCahon's work in the Chartwell Trust Collection, Are There Not Twelve Hours Of Daylight. The work sold well at $30,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $12,000 - $18,000.

Key works by Tony Fomison, Jeffery Harris and Robert Ellis all sold well out of a catalogue crammed with goodies. .

The team at Mossgreen -Webb's had worked long and hard to ensure that the sale of this significant collection went off with a bang and Part One certainly did just that.

Over $2.7 million (IBP) worth of fine New Zealand art changed hands on the night, with 91% of the works sold by number and 136% by value.

One of the works from the collection, an early work by Phillip Trusttum, Two Heads, (Lot 81 ) that was originally given as an anniversary present from Warwick to his wife Kitty sold for $4750 the entire proceeds of which were to be donated to the Dementia New Zealand in memory of his late wife.

Having toured a selection of the works to locations out of Auckland interest from far afield was strong and as a result the 95 lot part one attracted a strong interest from around the country with over 200 telephone bids and numerous bidders choosing to bid on line with its 3 second delays. As a result, the auction which started at the advertised time of 6.30 p.m. did not finish until just on 10.00 p.m. itself a bit of a marathon record for the selling of 95 lots.


All prices shown are hammer and expressed in $NZ unless otherwise stated.

Sale Referenced: The Warwick & Kitty Brown Collection, Day 1, Mossgreen-Webb's (formerly Webb's), Auckland, 17/05/2017

About The Author

John Perry is known locally as a collector / consultant / curator/ educator and artist and is a former director of the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. For the last 20 years has worked as an antique dealer specializing in ''man made and natural curiosities'' from an old art deco cinema on the outskirts of Auckland. Over the last 16 years he has developed a multi million dollar collection of 19th and 20th century artworks for the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. He recently donated 120 artworks from his collection in various media to the East Southland Art Gallery in Gore. A committed ''art o holic'' he continues to develop collections of New Zealand and International fine art / folk art / ceramics and photography for future usage in a private/public ARTMUSEEUM of NEWSEELAND, not to be confused with Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.