Earlier today, after receiving advice from Aboriginal Victoria, we had no option but to withdraw all of the lots listed for sale in this Sunday’s auction (September 23) of the Blythman Collection.
We took this decision in consultation with the vendor and Aboriginal Victoria, an office within the Department of the Premier & Cabinet of the Victorian Government.
After an inspection of the 232 lots that were being offered, officers from Aboriginal Victoria identified 112 that they deemed to be sacred or secret and could not be offered for sale. Not all of the items were from Victoria, a fact acknowledged by Aboriginal Victoria.
We were further advised that under the Act  Leski Auctions, on behalf of the vendor, would need to apply for permits to sell the remaining items. While this will take some time it also enables us to seek clarity over the status of the collection as a whole.
The issue of ownership of Indigenous art and artefacts has long been a matter of contention in Australia. The policy of Leski Auctions is to encourage dialogue between vendors and Indigenous Australians, to ensure a respectful relationship is maintained.
We realise that this decision may cause inconvenience for people who have expressed interest in the auction or have already submitted bids, or who may have planned to attend, and for that we apologise.
We appreciate your understanding and will continue to keep you updated as information becomes available.