Art and wine a Holocaust survivor's auction legacy

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 24th March, 2023

Holocaust survivors are undoubtedly tough – and to show just how resilient, Polish Jew Martin Sachs lived to the ripe old age of 95 after becoming one of only 500 survivors from the horrors of the World War II German Mauthausen Labour Camp.

Only 20 when he was liberated in May 1945 by United States forces after losing both his father and mother in Belzec and Stutthof concentration camps during the war, Martin migrated in 1948 to Australia where he became a successful builder and developer.

He died in 2020 and in March last year Melbourne-based Leski Auctions sold much of his art and wine collection.

From 6pm Thursday March 30, part II of the estate will be auctioned at 727-729 High Street, Armadale.

A reflection of his passions, it includes an early Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) oil painting (lot 2) entitled Woolloomooloo Squash (one of his favourites) and Brett Whiteley’s (1939-1992) Max Lake’s Vineyard of 1976 (lot 6).

Perhaps the Holocaust drove Martin’s love for the finer things in life which included art, wine, cooking and chess.

With wife Valerie, he was a great supporter of the arts, counting among his close friends Jewish artist Joel Elenberg (who tragically died of cancer at age 33) and Whiteley.

Teaming up in the late 1960s with Max Lake, of Lake’s Folly vineyard in New South Wales Hunter Valley, they formed an interesting quartet and Martin’s Montalto Avenue, Toorak home – with its vaulted ceilings and huge walls – was the perfect venue for an 8000-bottle wine cellar and showcase for the many paintings, drawings and sculptures he collected.

This second sale features many of the wines he bought the vineyard including three 1970 Lake’s Folly Cabernets and another bottle overwritten ‘1971’ signed by Max (lot 52).

Lots 79, 81 and 83 are each a dozen 1974 Lake’s folly Cabernets – while lot 125 introduces the 1976 vintage, finishing with lot 290, a magnum of the 1990 variety.

Other fine wines also are included from Martin’s cellar – in particular Chateau Tahbilk (lots 10, 12 and 18), Wynns (lots 13, 19, 25, and 28), Penfolds (lots 14, 222, 43-45 and 55) Tyrrell’s (lots 23 and 31-36) Redmans (lots 41, 46 and 53-54) and Wolf Blass (lots 66-70, 72 and 76).

As a builder and developer, Martin left an indelible mark – particularly in the Beaumaris area where he was renowned for his innovative designs including conversion of a chicken farm into a residential court.

Other projects included high rises in St Kilda and office showrooms around South Melbourne.

A life-long Israel supporter, he contributed to the Jewish National Fund which raised funds for land reclamation, swamp clearance, tree planting and other environmental projects.

Friends and family were all important to whom he gifted a significant portion of his art collection and six of his closest mates each received a selection of vintage wine from the cellar.

From the proceeds of the estate, a fund will be established to commemorate Martin’s parents to be used for the furtherance of education and research, particularly in chemistry.

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