Friday, April 27, 2012


The auction house is no place for an artist. When times are good they get to see bags of gold passing hands for works they sold for copper coins and when times are tough they see their work spurned. Did John Nixon - a highly respected Australian painter - need to see three of his four paintings on offer sell for a measly $7,350 in under a minute and one of them not even get a bid? No. Still at Art + Object last night most items seemed to sell and it became apparent that many of the reserve prices were around 20% below the low estimates. This meant that sales could be consummated on the night rather than subject to negotiation the next day.

There was little interest in bidding over the $100,000 mark. A C F Goldie managed it and sold but Don Binney and Shane Cotton both hit the ton only to be passed in. And no real interest in Colin McCahon once the darling of the auction room, a stunning Jet out of Muriwai drawing that would have sold for around $25,000 in the day limped to $14,000 and was also passed in.

But as always there were lots that sparked bidding wars as two or three must-haves went for it. An eclectic group of artists had this I’ll-top-that effect from Michael Parekowhai and Peter Robinson to Joanna Braithwaite and Peter Stichbury.

We watched the whole thing on the internet which weirdly had the screen prices running ahead of the sound. It was like we knew what the lots were going for before the auctioneer did. Maybe there’s the germ of a betting scam if anyone out there wants to go over to the dark side.