Melbourne-based auction house Gibson’s Auctions cannot believe the result of its latest auction on Sunday July 19 – which involved the personal collection of Australian auction industry doyen Graham Joel.
Because of the current lockdown in Melbourne due to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers could only bid in one of three ways – absentee, over the phone or online – with no member of the public allowed to enter the auction rooms.
However, that didn’t stop keen competition among the buying public with an incredible 1400 registrations (including a massive number of phone bids) and a clearance rate of 98 per cent by lot and 334 per cent by value.
Understandably, director Jenny Gibson was delighted with the result and was quick to thank both the auction house’s long term collectors and new buyers for their continued support throughout “these strange times”.
The biggest impact appears to have been in the sale a considerable number of paintings by Ethel Carrick Fox (1872-1952), which Graham Joel purchased in 1952 from her estate.
Because Gibson’s might have been unsure of how the auction would pan out under such difficult sale conditions, the catalogue estimates may have been a little lower than normal.
Nevertheless, the ensuing results would have surprised even the most seasoned auction goer.
Top of the list was Fox’s The Garden Terrace (lot 121), which carried a catalogue estimate of $3000-$5000 but rocketed up the financial charts to change hands for a whopping $67,100 (including buyer’s premium).
Second spot was taken by French glass artist Emile Galle’s (1846-1904) rare ‘Noisette’ table lamp (lot 31), selling for $48,800, before Fox resumed her domination of the top prices with her Hydrangeas in Spring (lot 116) bringing $39,040.
From then on the remainder of the top 10 lots was a bit of a Fox procession with the fourth and fifth highest prices being for her Venice (lot 110 - $36,600) and Champs Elysee (lot 115 - $24,400), before Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917) chimed in with The Pool 1905 (lot 153 - $21,960), and the seventh and ninth places featuring her Roses (lot 131 - $18,300) and Under the Bridge 1907 (lot 114 -$17,080).
Walter Withers (1854-19-14) snuck into eighth place with Through the Trees 1903 (lot 144) at $18,300, while in tenth position was Bernard Hall’s (1859-1935) Camellias and Porcelain, also for $17,080.