Prior Years Archive:
The final Art+Object sale for 2020 in Auckland realised $2.1 million (including BP) with 60% of the lots sold. A new auction record price for a work by Michael Parekowhai was set with his 'Kiss the Baby Goodbye (Marquette)' (above). Purchased from Gow Langsford Gallery for approximately $45,000 in 2001, the work sold for $156,000, exceeding the previous auction record for the artist of $140,000 set by 'Tu Rama Ra' sold by A+O in 2015.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 30-Nov-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

Several record prices set at the final major Art+Object sale for 2020.

The staff at Art + Object possibly felt a little worried when their auction of Important Paintings and Contemporary Art in Auckland on 24 November started a few minutes late. With traffic at a standstill on the major arterials due to stormy weather, there were only about 35 people in room at the commencement of the sale, a much lower number than usual. However A+O needn’t have been concerned as bidding was well covered via all the usual channels (room, phone, internet and absentee) and it was the debut outing for the Art + Object bidding app.

The 23 November 2020 Works of Art catalogue from Webb’s was the best offering since the business came under the new ownership in 2018.  With post sales, the auction realised $1,718,500 hammer ($2,064,349 incl BP) with a clearance rate of 65% by lot. Riding on the back of the last Tony Fomison painting consigned to Webb’s which sold for a record price in August 2020, was Garden of Eden 1980-1981 which sold for $430,000 to a Fomison collector in the room, setting a new record  auction price for the artist.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 25-Nov-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

Webb's final art sale for 2020 the most successful so far under the newish management.

An enormous crowd of over 150 people packed into the Webb’s sale rooms on a balmy pre-summer’s night to attend two sales on the same night this week.  New Zealand fashion royalty, Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, of World organised 13 contemporary artists to donate works to be sold for the benefit of artists with disabilities through the charity IHC.  A huge amount of presale publicity guaranteed attendance by an extremely fashion forward and well turned out crowd which raised about $50,000. Once this section of the sale was over, much of the crowd dispersed to the back of the auction room and stayed on drinking wine and eating the gourmet chips and nuts, which possibly wasn’t the best decision as it made the room extremely noisy and hard to control for the staff.

The eight Banksy works in the International Art Centre sale in Auckland contributed one-third of the 3 million sale total, but there was plenty of interest in the New Zealand offerings and several records were set by contemporary artists who are still exhibiting. One of these was Star Gossage’s work, 'Kia Tau Aki Tonul (above) which sold for $18,000 setting an auction record for the artist.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 19-Nov-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

The Banksy train continues to roll on at International Art Centre realising over $1,000,000 in sales of eight screenprints.

Would you consider eight Banksy prints in one auction too much of a good thing? Well apparently not, according to the bidders at International Art Centre’s final Important and Rare auction in Auckland on November 17, where eight screenprints were offered this week, the largest number offered in a single sale in the South Pacific according to IAC director and auctioneer Richard Thompson. The selection of prints were consigned from various vendors in New Zealand with one exception from Sydney (the word’s got out across the Tasman of recent sales in NZ obviously!)

For a number of years, the auction world has been waiting for an exceptional example of a painting by Gretchen Albrecht to come to the open market and that work was present at The Art + Object sale of Important Paintings and Contemporary Art in Auckland on September 8, 2020. Skyfall – Seaward (above) was the work and it sold for $105,000 setting a record for the artist. The sale raised over $2 million including buyer's premium with a clearance rate of 74% by number.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 10-Sep-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

No sign of the recession in Auckland as Art + Object post their strongest result in 18 months.

Considering the unbelievably successful auction results since Covid-19 hit our shores in March, I’ve decided to rethink all my economic predictions. I’m going to listen to what the analysts and those in the know have said about the likely dire state of the New Zealand economy and then expect the exact opposite to happen. At present the art market is the strongest and most consistent it’s been in years and it’s defying any sense that an economic crash is about to befall the country.

The Art + Object sale of Important Paintings and Contemporary Art took place in Auckland on September 8, the night after Webb’s and yet another amazing result was returned. Engaged bidders through phone, internet and absentee bidding contributed to its success across all genres and price points. It’s been a while since A+O have sold an art group collection and this catalogue included 15 lots from the 'Off The Hook' art group which had a very good selection of contemporary practitioners including three works by current auction room favourite Fiona Pardington.

The most anticipated lot of the sale of Webb's Works of Art sale on 7 September in Auckland was Tony Fomison’s 'Watcher on the Shore'. The large work attracted three bidders in the room and another three on the phone, but the end contest was between two consultants in the room with the painting selling for $400,000, setting a record for the artist. Overall the sale was a resounding success for Webb’s, who immediately reported a sale total of $1.1 million hammer, selling 59% by number and 110% by value.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 09-Sep-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

A resounding post-covid success at Webb’s Works of Art sale

The team at Webb’s must have felt heartened at the start of Monday night’s Works of Art Sale on 7 September in Auckland.  The presentation was top notch and they had a a secret weapon, one of the best paintings by Tony Fomison to come to auction. Its estimate was pitched well below market value and it carried that all-important 'single owner since new' provenance. More on how that transpired to come…

International Art Centre’s 'Important, Early and Rare' sale on 11 August grossed over  $2 million, concluding just as  ‘breaking news’ came through that Auckland was resuming lockdown in 15 hours, creating difficulties for the major Webb's and Art + Object  art sales next week. The sale achieved a record price at auction for a work by Tim Wilson, the painter of meticulous South Island landscapes who had recently passed away with 'Lake Te Anau' (above) selling for $46,000 against a low estimate of $20,000
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 14-Aug-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

International Art Centre slips in a sale in Auckland just before (another) lockdown to post an incredibly strong result.

As International Art Centre’s (IAC) Important, Early and Rare auction of 11 August came to a close on Tuesday evening around 9.15pm, ‘breaking news’ alerts started to come through on mobile phones.  The Prime Minister and Minister of Health were due to make an announcement in the next few minutes and it was expected to be about community transmission of Covid-19.  Within 15 minutess, the entire landscape had changed, Auckland had four cases of community transmission and New Zealand’s largest city was going back into lockdown in 15 hours time with essential services only allowed to open.

IAC was unbelievably lucky. They had just finished a bumper sale which had sold over two million dollars worth of art.  Not so lucky are the other auction houses, Webb’s and Art + Object whose sales were due to take place next week with viewings were starting  the following day.

Proving that imagery is a driver of a successful sale, a full scale cast bronze sculpture by Paul Dibble utilising some of his best known motifs, was another of the early strong results at the Art + Object sale in Auckland on 21 May. Green Tango [lot 21] had been a pre-sale highlight, fully polished and just over 2 metres tall in ready to display condition, it was extremely popular with bidders to realise $85,000 against a $65,000 low estimate and achieve the second highest price for the artist at auction.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 26-May-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

Art + Object defies all talk of a slowdown with their Important Paintings and Contemporary Art result.

Art + Object did things a little differently to their Auckland counterparts during the Covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand. While International Art Centre and Webb’s focussed on online art sales to keep the coffers full, Art + Object (A+O) seemed to drop off the radar but were working hard behind the scenes to transact private treaty sales on behalf of clients. When their viewing reopened at the beginning of level 2 restrictions, Managing Director Leigh Melville reported strong interest levels from buyers, and they were feeling optimistic for a good result from the sale.

Once again the social distancing seating regulations were being followed by A+O and there were about 45 clients present at the opening lot, with almost all of Auckland’s art consultants in attendance, bidding cards at the ready, attesting to the strength of the stock on offer.

There was proven interest in quality artworks with sound provenance at Webb’s 'Works of Art' sale on 20 May. It was the second of three auctions in Auckland on consecutive nights making it a busy week for stalwart auction attendees. Webb’s will have every reason to feel positive for the future of the art market this year and their place in it. Rick Killeen’s early work Bus Stop (above) was unsurprisingly well contested to realise $33,000 to an online bidder
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 24-May-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

Webb’s 'Works of Art' sale performs well in uncertain times

Webb’s 'Works of Art' sale on 20 May was the second of three auctions in Auckland on consecutive nights making it a busy week for stalwart auction attendees like myself!  The auction catalogue was headlined by a small selection of works from the Tim and Helen Beaglehole Collection, akin to other notable single vendor collections of late, having been collected in Wellington in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Webb’s followed all the social distancing protocols as mandated by the government and chairs were set at a reasonable distance from one another. However they did manage to manoeuvre around the ‘no food to be served’ requirement by offering gourmet chips and nuts in single sealed packages, which was a welcome perk for the 30 or so clients in attendance but the rustling of chip packets being opened did give the commencement of the auction the feeling of a movie theatre.

The level 3 and 4 Covid-19 restrictions were imposed just days before the first round of major New Zealand art auctions. Starved for cashflow, the major auction houses were quick to lock in a sale date once restrictions were lifted, and International Art Centre won the pole position with their Important & Rare sale on 19 May, 2020. From Michael Smithers domestic paintings series from the 1960s which featured images of his children and family life, 'Chris Cricket Meets Buzzy Bee' (above) sold for $100,000.
By Briar Williams in Auckland on 21-May-2020 Exclusive to the AASD

International Art Centre holds first major post Covid-19 lockdown auction with an optimistic result.

From a cashflow perspective, the shutdown of New Zealand due to Covid-19 couldn’t have come at a worse time for the auction houses.  The main players were just days away from holding their first round of major sales for the year, when in late March the country was put in hiatus.  The major sales are the events which produce significant cashflow for auction businesses and when an important sale hasn’t been held since November the previous year, the squeeze is on.  As soon as the end of the level 3 and 4 lockdown was announced by the government, the auction houses grabbed the earliest available sale dates and International Art Centre (IAC) was the first cab off the rank this week.