International Action at Dunbar Sloane in Wellington

By Briar Williams, on 26-Aug-2013

Dunbar Sloane’s Winter Fine Art sale had a varied and interesting selection of reasonably estimated works over a two day sale period in Wellington last week.


The Wednesday evening ‘Investment Section’ achieved an impressive 85% clearance rate with the front cover, (Lot 18 ) Don Binney ‘Kereru’ realising $82,075 (IBP). Selling to a private collector in the room, this quintessential Binney had everything a collector would look for and was the highest priced lot in the sale.

Unfortunately other expected top lots didn’t do as well, with the McCahon (Lot 22 ), Hotere (Lot 24 ) and Hodgkins (Lot 25 ) failing to sell on the night.

It’s always pleasing to see a group of sculpture included in a fine art sale, it rounds out the offering, brings in specialist collectors and gives a three dimensional aspect to the viewing. The lovely group of Terry Stringer sculptures from mixed vendors, lot 10-15, all found new homes with all works exceeding the low estimate and three even exceeding top estimate. The auction house would have been pleased to see the large scale cast bronze Paul Dibble work, The Voyager, (Lot 23 ), height 281 cm, sell for $61,000 (IBP) as these large works can be site specific, difficult to move and subsequently re-sell.

One of the most hotly contested paintings on the night was (Lot 26 ), Theodore Jacques Ralli, The Mandolin Player, Cairo. Estimated to sell between $35,000-$45,000, six international phone bidders took the work to $77,400 (IBP). Despite Dunbar Sloane not offering online bidding, this diminutive but beautifully painted work was still discovered by the international buyers and the result seemed very strong compared to recent comparable international sales results for works by the artist.

Interest in the moderns was evident as at Webb’s and Art+Object with paintings by the Tole brothers selling well above estimate. The John Tole (Lot 41 ), Campsite had significant absentee and phone interest to realise $6,150 (IBP) against a low estimate of $2,000. Unfortunately Ian’s Scott’s Blonde in Red Bikini (lot 59) failed to sell on the night despite the scarcity of works from this series at auction.

The sale cleared 79% by number and realised $997,000 (IBP) over the two days.