Friday, November 27, 2009

Market forces

We may be in the middle of a recession but the auction catalogues are still as plump as Christmas turkeys. With auctions only five days apart, Art + Object and Webb’s have together put up a total of 249 works, 17 with high-end estimates over $100,000 and a swag over $50,000. As you might imagine with A+O first out of the blocks last night, Webb’s will be combing over the prices achieved. They might take it as a good omen that the first work listed went for over 70 percent above the high estimate. The small (200 x 300mm) canvas by Peter Robinson ART went for a hammer price of $3,000. Another Robinson – There is no 1 God – also went well selling just shy of its $30,000 high estimate. Unfortunately when it came to the bigger ticket items, most were passed in or, on a number of occasions, received no bids. A typical tough-times exception: a Goldie that clocked $200,000. More typically a large Shane Cotton work expected to go between 130,000 and 170,000 was passed in at $100,000. Webb’s have another 1990s Cotton and will hope for better. No interest in Milan Mrkusich or auction darling Ralph Hotere. Another auction favourite, Gordon Walters, failed to get anywhere near its low estimate when his Study for Rewa faltered $20,000 below its low estimate. There is a non-koru equivalent in the Webb’s auction to follow. More surprisingly, a stunning Colin McCahon Truth from the King Country (sold at Dunbar Sloan in 2007 for $50,000) could only attract $42,000 and was passed in. There are bargains to be had if you have the cash.