Australian billionaire auctions artworks and furniture

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

Seventeenth and 18th century furniture and contemporary artworks belonging to Chemist Warehouse billionaire owner Sam Gance will be auctioned from 2pm Sunday April 30 on site at 2 Struan Street, Toorak by Melbourne-based Gibson’s Auctions as he allows auction goers an inside glimpse of one of his multi-million-dollar properties.

Gance, who founded the budget pharmacy chain with his brother Jack, paid $3.6 million for the property in 1990 before upgrading 31 years later to a $43-million mansion in Toorak’s prestigious Lansell Road with his long-term partner Real Housewives of Melbourne star Janet Roach.

At the time, the sale set a new record for the most expensive home ever sold at auction in Australia.

Gibson’s Auctions describes the sale as prestige and believes there will be intense buyer interest for the items on offer.

Of particular note among the furniture items is a possible 17th century Renaissance-style walnut credence cabinet (lot 1) with a $4000-$6000 catalogue estimate.

Another is a 1700-1740 northern Italian or southern German baroque oak and ash centre table (lot 4) and a late 17th century Charles II yew wood five-drawer chest with fielded panels (lot 7).

An 18th century George III oak geometric panel chest (lot 16) is another strong attraction along with a pair of 18th century Louis XIV high back walnut armchairs (lot 14) and a 17th century Spanish chestnut table (lot 88).

For those looking for an ornate home decoration, it will be difficult to go past the impressive Louis XV-style 10-branch crystal and bronze chandelier (lot 11) hanging at the top of the staircase.

Another ornate potential is the 19th century carved giltwood cushion front mirror with an elaborately pierced acanthus scroll crest and frame (lot 28).

On the contemporary art front are paintings like Imants Tillers’ Nature Speaks 2000 (lot 81) and for portraits After John Singer Sargent’s (1856-1925) El Jaleo (lot 50) that are well worth considering.

An American expatriate artist who was actually born in Florence, Italy and died in London, Sargent was considered the leading portrait painter of his generation for his illustrations of Edwardian-era luxury.

He created about 900 oil paintings, more than 2000 watercolours and countless sketches and charcoal drawings during his illustrious career.

Born in 1950, Tillers is an Australian artist, writer and curator who lives and works in Cooma New South Wales and uses his signatures canvas boards to explore themes relevant to contemporary culture.

Among the Chinese ceramics on offer is a set of six Han dynasty jars (lot 86) with some of the coloured glaze still intact and a catalogue estimate of $10,000-$15,000.

Known for its long reign and achievements, the Han dynasty stretched from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. and was particularly notable for the development of the civil service and government structure, for the invention of paper, and for the use of water clocks and sundials to measure time.

Another worthwhile investment is the Chinese polychrome seated figure of Guan Yin (lot 107) from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) ruled by the Manchus, a semi-nomadic people from northeast of China’s Great Wall.

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