Moving Statues

Clement Meadmore 'Here Comes Charlie'

K. Strickland The Australian Financial Review

That different auction houses have different audiences was highlighted at Shapiro Auctioneers’ August 22 Australian and International Art auction, held at the Woollahra Hotel in Sydney’s east.

Clement Meadmore’s 1988 sculpture Here Comes Charlie, edition two of four, passed in at Bonhams in May against estimates of $70,000 to $90,000. The vendor then took it to Shapiro, which put a $60,000 to $80,000 estimate on it. The sculpture sold at Shapiro for a $58,000 hammer, or $69,600 including buyer’s premium.

The price was lower than at Bonhams, but Shapiro owner Andrew Shapiro thinks it also highlights the different markets serviced by various auctioneers. The buyer at his auction had seen the sculpture in the window of his Queen Street, Woollahra gallery, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and was a first time buyer there. It was a reminder of the value of a shopfront at a time when many dealers are closing theirs to go online.

“We all have our own audiences, some people go to certain auction houses and not to others,” he says. “A lot of art buyers are spontaneous, and having three windows on Queen Street draws in buyers. It went to someone who lives in Woollahra who has not collected from us before.”

It was a good night for sculpture, not always the easiest of artforms to get away. Another Meadmore bronze, Lush Life (1995), number two of four, made a $38,000 hammer, just shy of its estimates of $40,000 to $60,000, the buyer paying $45,600 including premium.

Clifford Frank Last’s Totem made a $10,000 hammer against estimates of $7000 to $9000, $12,000 including buyer’s premium. The vendor had bought the bronze, edition one of four, for $9000 including premium at Sotheby’s in 2002.

The sale had some surprisingly solid results for paintings, too. A still life painting by late-19th century Scottish painter George Leslie Hunter, which had not been on the market since 1961 and came with its original 1961 invoice from Edinburgh dealers Aitken Dott & Son, did well. Still Life with Fruit and Roses was knocked down to Melbourne dealer Martin Gallon, who bid $108,000 including premium, against estimates of $90,000 to $120,000.

A small 1956 Donald Friend oil on board, Cairns Landscape, sold to Sydney dealer Denis Savill for $43,200 including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000, and a circa 1988 Margaret Olley, Untitled (Still Life with Tablecloth) sold for $72,000 including premium, its estimate $60,000 to $80,000. Sam Fullbrook’s Untitled (Abstract) made $9120 including premium, its estimate $3000 to $5000.

6 September 2012