Odd Lots: Ah Xian Turns Heads


Brook Turner - Australian Financial Review

Shapiro Auctioneers’ sale of the Royal Bank of Scotland (formerly ABN Amro) collection avoided the squalls affecting contemporary art recently.

The 40 lots sold 90 per cent by volume and 130 per cent – or $541,364 – by value in Sydney on Monday night, once the 20 per cent buyers premium and 10 per cent goods and services tax attracted by a corporate collection were included.

The biggest seller was predictably a 1998 porcelain bust (pictured) by Chinese Australian artist Ah Xian, bought from the artist by curator Barbara Flynn, which sold to a London buyer for $90,000, or $119,700 with premium and GST, against an estimate of $80,000-$120,000.

Market darling Michael Zavros’s 16-panel Executive Suite, also acquired directly from the artist, sold for $54,000 plus GST, almost twice its upper $30,000 estimate, while Narelle Autio’s photograph, Splash, Cottesloe, sold for $13,860, more than twice its upper estimate of $6000. A number of artist records were set – particularly for the more boldly graphic works – unsurprisingly for a collection of largely emerging artists.

The RBS result eclipsed the multi-vendor portion of the sale. The overall result had been expected to reach $1 million. While a particularly stunning early Cressida Campbell self-portrait went for $30,000 with premium, against an estimate of $8000 to $12,000, the total was just $881,000, in line, Andrew Shapiro said, with other recent, difficult multi-vendor sales. “There was greater interest in the impeccably credentialled contemporary work then traditional or modern pictures,” he said.

Published 29 November 2012