Sculthorpe sale sure to lure its share of stickybeaks

By James Cockington | The Sydney Morning Herald | Money | Tuesday 2 June 2015

The doors of late composer Peter Sculthorpe's home will be opened for an auction of his estate this weekend.

Peter Sculthorpe Estate SMH

Peter Sculthorpe composed much of his music in a sun-filled studio leading to this small, intimate courtyard. Photo: Goodyer Real Estate

As mentioned in this column in April, one-owner sales are now the big thing in the auction marketplace, so we can assume that Andrew Shapiro, of Shapiro Auctioneers in Sydney, had little hesitation in taking on the estate of composer Peter Sculthorpe, who died in August 2014.

This sale takes place on Sunday, June 7, starting at noon, at the composer's former home in Holdsworth Street, Woollahra, where he spent most of his life, after coming to Sydney from Launceston in 1963. It is where he composed much of his music, in a sun-filled studio leading on to a small, intimate courtyard.

In the previous story, Shapiro said the one-owner collections that do best are those held in the vendor's home, which he puts down to the stickybeak factor. Viewing days, especially in Sydney's eastern suburbs, are social events, with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, coming to have a sneak peek.

Buddha smh

This Chinese gilt bronze figure from the late Ming Dynasty is possibly Mahasthamaprapta, a disciple of Gautama Buddha. Estimate: $8000 to $10,000.

He estimates that this, plus the celebrity factor, generally adds to the overall results by about 20 to 25 per cent above estimates. Viewing of Sculthorpe's estate is on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning before the start of the auction.

This is a modest sale, with total estimates about $100,000. This is partly because most of the big-ticket items, such as Sculthorpe's grand piano, have already been donated to the University of Sydney. All proceeds from the sale of the house and its contents will go to the university to set up a chair in his name.

Most of his personal archive, including original hand-written manuscripts, has already been donated to the State Library of NSW. These formed the basis of Tamara-Anna Cislowska's two-CD set of Sculthorpe's complete works for piano music, released in June last year shortly before he died.

sculthorpe akubra

An Akubra hat, as worn by Peter Schulthorpe. Estimate $150.

Shapiro was still cataloguing at time of being interviewed, but said he believed there would be some duplication manuscripts offered for sale, although most of the auction would be based on his collection of Asian decorative arts. Sculthorpe was a prolific collector in this area, often seen browsing in Queen Street antique shops or bidding at auction.

Among the feature pieces offered are a Chinese screen (estimates $1500 to $2000), a gilt-bronze Buddha statue given by Australian music supporter Kenneth Tribe ($8000 to $10,000) and some Chinese ancestral scrolls.

Several books on Asian art will be included in the sale. Sculthorpe also loved books on cooking and musical and Aboriginal history.

A glass vase by John Olsen is also listed, with its value yet to be determined. A possibility exists, as yet unconfirmed, that this was a one-off piece given to Sculthorpe by the artist.

Among the more unusual items is a large selection of ceramic pot lids in a frame. Sculthorpe also collected tapestry samplers. Shapiro says many items will be listed in the affordable $300 to $500 range, with several about $100 to $200, such as some miniature glazed bowls.

As usual there are likely to be some surprises among the bidding. How much is one of Sculthorpe's Akubra hats or his leather satchel worth?

A 1975 portrait of Sculthorpe is in the house, although it, too, may be donated to the university. One possibility is that a replica of his Woollahra studio will be recreated there as a memorial.

Sculthorpe's house sold on May 16 for $3.75 million through Goodyer Real Estate in Queen Street. The buyer was fashion identity and philanthropist Peter Weiss, who has promised to continue to fill the house with music.

The Peter Sculthorpe estate sale is on Sunday, June 7, at 91 Holdsworth Street, Woollahra, starting at noon. Catalogue is available online here. Viewing times are Friday 1pm - 5pm and Saturday 11am - 5pm, viewing also open prior to the auction on Sunday 10am - 12.30pm.