Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leaving Paris

The auction business has always been aware that celebrity collection auctions can bring in big results. The collections of Jackie O, Andy Warhol and YSL all did big business and set auction records. So smart of Art + Object to foreground the life and world of Les and Milly Paris in preparation for last night’s auction. 

There has been a terrific publicity campaign and the rewards came in on the night. Around 250 people packed Art + Object’s rooms and they weren’t shy about putting their paddles in the air. Bids came in too by phone and in one case off the internet, a first according to auctioneer Ben Plumbly. We reckon the total dollars turned over at around $3.7 million - not bad for the first night of a two-day auction.

Milly Paris wasn’t on the floor but watched proceedings from nearby via the internet. She will be well pleased with the results and to know that some at least of the works are off to the national collection at Te Papa. 

Some highlights. Both the Gordon Walters paintings went above low estimate, as did works by Ralph Hotere. Peter Robinson’s I am scarred went to the top of estimate at $120,000. This must be a record as would be Brent Wong’s Mean time exposure that went $5,000 over the top estimate of $85,500. Bargain of the evening must have been Les’s favourite painting a brown corner painting by Milan Mrkusich titled Painting 1971 which went for a modest $75,000 (the same price as a similar-sized Maddox). Then there was the epic battle over the classic Gordon Walters koru work on paper Karaka (second version) that crept up, often in $1,000 bites, to $66,000, $11,000 over the top estimate. (You can check out all the hammer prices here on our Twitter stream)

In a totally New Zealand touch as we left we saw one of the A+O staff on their knees packing up a painting by Milan Mrkusich in bubble wrap with a very pleased owner standing by. Tomorrow the smaller lots. We’ll tweet (a little less manically this time) the highlights as they happen. 
Image: Jeffrey Harris's 1980 painting Untitled coming up for sale. It was sold for $20,000