Mr Treloar returned it to the sale, and it made $21,000 compared with unchanged original estimates of around $5000.
The print was sold as originally offered, but with some reservations. It was listed as Earle; Natives of NSW drinking Bool, or Sugar Water (original lithograph).... in other words, grog.
The catalogue of the sale pointed out that a similar image appears in Augustus Earle's Views in NSW and Van Diemen's Land published in London in 1830.
Another early colonial artist, Charles Rodius (1802-1860) is credited with doing similar images a little more extreme than Earle's and the calls suggested there was good evidence that he did it.
Whichever of these two artists were responsible, the find, in an old Adelaide collection, was very rare.
So much so that all but one of the parties who had shown an interest are understood to have said they were still interested in buying it.
So the withdrawal and return of the print to auction at the last minute to review the known facts about the work seems to have had the opposite effects to the usual state of affairs. It could well have had the kiss of death.
Bonhams could be struggling to place what now looks like an exceptional work by Girolamo Nerli after some undue scuttlebutt about its attribution.
Treloar's Earle print which is believed to have gone to an SA institution (Julie Robinson, senior curator of prints and drawings at the Art Gallery of SA was in the room and the bid was called in her direction) had other quizzical and ironical overtones.
This would be in line with the gallery's great strength in colonial art which former director Ron Radford had made an issue of establishing.
It would seem that Rodius and Earle copied, that is appropriated, each other's imagery, if one school of thought is to be believed. Appropriation has become a big issue of contention among leading contemporary artists.
The interest may be seen as a display of empathy by collectors and institutions in collecting the second wave of depictions by white artists of Indigenous people. The representation is more likely to be true than the first wave which showed them as noble savages.
This transition may be just a little earlier than recently thought. One bidder thought it to be an artist's proof for the NSW book.
Rodius went over the top in one of his prints showing the subjects beating each other up. A notorious thief sentenced to transportation, he died in a sad way having had a stroke and lacking the creature comforts other citizens enjoyed. Earle prospered internationally from his print endeavours.
The affair also shows why the Old Masters attract more limited response from collectors nowadays. That is, the volume of research needed, and not always possible, to establish who did what.
It is much easier with contemporary work.like Brett Whiteleys, for instance?
Mr Treloar said he wanted to do the best by all parties as he treasured the model which allowed him to sell to Australia and the world through the Internet, lots fully and accurately described. The auction was held in his own bookshop in North Terrace with barely double digit attendance
This was viable and global without the costs involved in some of the earlier of his eight auctions to date at fancy venues such as major town halls.