A new auction record was set for a work by any living aboriginal artist when Michael Nelson Jagamara’s Five Stories, 1984, sold for £401,000 (AU$ 687,877), more than doubling the pre-sale high estimate of £150,000-200,000. Offered from the Gabrielle Pizzi Collection, Five Stories is considered the most iconic work of modern aboriginal art, and is possibly the most published and exhibited work by any indigenous Australian artist.
Following a prolonged bidding battle, Benedict Palmeiua Munkara’s Male And Female Figures of Purukapali and Bim, executed on Bathurst Island in the 1960s, soared to £251,000 (AU$430,566), far in excess of the £30,000-50,000 estimate and setting a record for an aboriginal sculpture at auction. An artist record was set for Warlimpirringa Tjapaltjarri’s untitled painting from 2007, which more than doubled pre-sale expectations to sell for £167,000 (AU$286,473) (estimate: £50,000-80,000). Overall, the auction achieved £1.6m (AU$2.8m), representing a 55% increase in value from last year’s inaugural edition of the Aboriginal Art sale in London.
Tim Klingender, Senior Consultant, Australian Art to Sotheby's London, said“The remarkable prices achieved in the saleroom today reflect the depth of interest from across the globe for these hugely important works of art. To see so much international bidding - and so many new buyers entering the field - points to an exciting future for this annual event in London.”
This tightly curated auction features major paintings from the Estate of Gabrielle Pizzi, whose collection has been exhibited and published in Europe, Russia, The Middle East, Asia and Australia, including Dreamings at the Asia Society New York, Aratjara at the Hayward Gallery in London, and Genesis and Genius at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Also included is the Fiona Brockhoff Collection, showcasing the finest early Aboriginal figurative sculptures ever to be offered at auction.
Spanning more than 200 years, the artworks vary from exceptional early artefacts, to contemporary art by current stars such as Tracey Moffatt, Emily Kngwarreye and Walimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri.