Auction records galore for Menzies 100th sale

Auction records are always nice to achieve – and five on one night was a great way for Menzies to round out their final 2023 Australian & International Art sale in Sydney on November 29 with a $5.5 million (including buyers’ premiums) result.

Two of these were for Brett Whiteley (1939-1992) prints – (The Orange) Fruit Dove in Clark Park, 1980 (lot 63), which sold for $24,545 including buyer’s premium, and the large diptych entitled The Divided Unity, 1974 (lot 130), that changed hands for $35,591.

Whiteley’s main attraction, and the auction highlight, was Feeding Lavender Bay Doves, 1979 (lot 33) – a mainstay of his Sydney Harbour works that had remained in the same private collection since its first 1980 exhibition at Robin Gibson Gallery. The painting sold for $797,727, comfortably within its catalogue estimate range.

A new Australian auction record also was achieved for American abstract expressionist Bruce Marsden’s (1938-2023) After Boticelli, 1992-93 (lot 36) – bringing $135,000 and once again cementing Menzies as an important secondary market outlet for overseas artists.

The Sydney auction was notable for two reasons. One, it marked Menzies 25 years as an art auction house and, secondly, the company celebrated its 100th auction.

Another major drawcard were the 36 paintings (lots 1-14 and 49-70) belonging to the ANZ bank collection – of which 83 per cent were sold.

The best performer among this collection was William Robinson’s Springbrook Cliffs with Waterfall, 1997 (lot 7) which changed hands for $355,909.

Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) proved popular – three of the four paintings in the collection selling easily within or above their catalogue estimates with Hillside with Black Ram, 1972 (lot 8) the best performer at $122,727.

Outside the collection, Margaret Olley’s (1923-2011) Kilim Rug and Cornflowers II, 1997 (lot 24) performed much better than expected with a $141,136 sale result and David Hockney’s Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines and Two Light Blue Washes, 1978-80 (lot 34) – from a limited edition of 40 – sold for $184,091.

Likewise, John Brack’s (1920-1999) The Club, 1989 (lot 32) was mid-range at $153,409 and Fred Williams (1927-1982) Landscape, Lysterfield, 1968 (lot 35) a respectable $73,636.


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