Friday, August 19, 2011

If anyone can a web cam can

If you don’t live in Auckland you don’t really get to see contemporary art auctions live. The odd visit may coincide with a chance to look at what’s available, but that’s only a shadow of what happens on the night. Now all that’s changed. Last night we watched the Art + Object auction at home in Wellington via Live Auctioneers. And you had to watch closely as auctioneer Ben Plumbly stormed through the 218 lots; leave the room to make a cup of coffee and you’d miss half a dozen. It was fun to peer at the live stream in a small window at the same time as tracking the progress by lot in large images and the all-important state of the bids scrolling down the side of the screen. Then, when it was all over you can check out all the hammer prices, something it usually takes weeks to get hold of. 

So how did it go? Nothing to write home about. As happens in most auctions these days, the real selling is done the next morning. Canny buyers have been bidding just shy of the low estimate for a while now and taking their chances that the sellers will be enticed by the cash after a restless night’s sleep. Most of the big money items fell below their lower estimates, although a very pink Liz Maw painting did well, climbing toward the upper estimate before being called at $29,000 and ruining any chance of heading this post Less is Maw.

Image: Art + Auction live on screen selling Stephen Bambury’s Necessary Correction VII with a tiny Ben Plumbly at the rostrum.