By Briar Williams in Auckland, on 21-Nov-2013

A balmy spring evening didn’t deter the buyers at the final sale of the year for the International Art Centre (IAC) in Auckland.

At the International Art Centre sale on November 20 the C F Goldie of Kawhena, Goldie’s first Maori portrait, sold to a local buyer for $NZ625,000 ($NZ732,000 IBP) setting a new record for the highest price achieved for an artwork sold at auction in New Zealand.

The first 25 lots, a mix of modern and traditional sped along quickly with most works selling close to low estimate or sold subject. One exception was the fantastic watercolour by Olivia Spencer Bower, Kaikoura Country (Lot 5 ). Reminiscent of work by her fellow artist friend Rita Angus, but with a much lower price tag, this painting sold for $9,400 (ibp) against the estimate of $5,000 - 8,000.

The standout Peter Siddell, Two Palms (Lot 28 ) came next, detailing a panoramic view of the villas of Auckland with a glimpse of a very fine art collection through the window of the closest house. The buyers at IAC are a quiet bunch and barely a raised hand was seen but secret nods and winks to the auctioneer took the price of $170,375 (ibp) against an estimate of $100,000-$135,000.

By now everyone in the room, including the late edition TV news were waiting for the C F Goldie of Kawhena, Native of the Ngati Mahuta Tribe also known as Johnny Coffin, (lot 36). This highly significant painting was Goldie’s first Maori portrait and painted on a much larger scale than those works usually seen at auction.

Showing the glorious detail that Goldie would become renowned for, this was a difficult painting to price. Nothing comparable had been offered publicly before, so who could tell where the final price would land. Quoted at $600,000-$800,000 the work sold to the telephone for $625,000 hammer taking it to $732,000 including premium.

Even Richard Thompson’s description of Goldie as ‘The Rembrandt of New Zealand’ couldn’t coax another bid and the work sold to a local buyer setting a new record for the highest price for an artwork at auction in New Zealand.

The rest of the sale was fairly standard with most works selling around their low estimate. The vendors of some of the more prominent works such as Ralph Hotere (Lot 24 ) and Frances Hodgkins (Lot 39 ) will be disappointed to not get a bid on the night, however there were some pleasing results for some of the mid century modernists and regional landscapists and the traditional Hoytes, Gibbs and Barrauds deftly dealt with.

Overall this was a good result for a sale with a nice variety of works, however the total was significantly helped by the sale of the Goldie on the night. The sale realised $1,566,680 (ibp) and cleared 67% by lot.


Please note that all prices are expressed in New Zealand dollars.


Sale Referenced:

About The Author

Briar Williams is an Art Valuer and Auctioneer who has worked in the primary and secondary markets of New Zealand and Australia for over 15 years. In Melbourne she managed a commercial gallery and was a valuer at Leonard Joel Auctioneers & Valuers before becoming Head of Art there in 2009. Most recently, she was the manager of the art department at Mossgreen-Webb's in Auckland and currently works as an art writer and consultant.