Antiquities head the billing in McCann auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 20th June, 2017

Two Egyptian figures once belonging to disgraced Australian businessman the late Christopher Skase are among a more than 40-year-old comprehensive and exquisite private collection of Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Chinese antiquities to be auctioned on site from noon Sunday June 25 at 7 Ottowa Road, Toorak through Christian McCann Auctions.

One is a wood bearded male mask/bust complete with long black painted beard and striped turquoise wig from a New Kingdom Late Period (664-332 BC) Egyptian mummy case.

The other is an Egyptian bronze figure of the Goddess Sekmet from the 26th Dynasty and dates from about 664-610 BC.

Head of the Qintex group – which by the late 1980s was worth $1.5 billion with five resorts and a share in the Seven network and Brisbane Bears (now Brisbane Lions) Australian Rules football club among its holdings – Skase was known for his lavish displays of wealth, including a company Christmas party that cost $450,000.

He also owned more than $900,000 worth of antiques and furniture, of which the Egyptian figures were a small part.

By 1989, interest rates had risen dramatically and it became clear that Qintex was overextended – leading to Skase falling out with board members and an investigation by the Australian Securities Commission before the company spectacularly collapsed.

To escape prosecution for using his position to improperly obtain management fees, Skase fled to the Spanish island of Majorca – where he spent his remaining days before dying in August 2001 of a life-threatening lung condition. 

Expected to attract interest from overseas buyers, the auction contains many other highlights including an important life size ancient Roman marble torso and a Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) terracotta horse complete with thermoluminescence test results.

The torso (including upper legs) is early 2nd century AD after the ‘Faun of Praxiteles’ and is based on the complete version in Rome’s Musei Capitolini.

A 1st to 2nd century AD Roman marble relief carved panel entitled Menander and New Comedy Masks shows the seated New Comedy poet Menander considering a Greek theatrical mask with two more on a table before him and a draped female figure entering the room.

Fine antique furniture should attract plenty of attention from auction goers featuring quality 17th, 18th and 19th century French and English pieces.

Examples include marquetry inlaid and Boulle bureau-plats, vitrines, mirrors, couches, pedestals and occasional furniture.

Of particular note is a 17th century Charles II refectory table, a rare 18th century serpentine shaped walnut three-drawer commode and a French 19th century onyx top centre table supported by a kneeling cherub.

There are plenty of art works by leading Australian painters from which art lovers can choose including those by J. H. Scheltema, Ernest Buckmaster, Dora Wilson, Charles Dickerson, David Boyd, Leonard Long, Hugh Sawrey and Pro Hart.

The auction also has outstanding 18th and 19th century timepieces including a rare 18th century Dutch longcase clock, ormolu Empire salon clocks and bronze and gilt bronze clock sets.

One of the more appealing clock sets is an exhibition quality French 19th century three piece gilt bronze and bronze example with a central time piece and reclining lady.

Porcelain items feature 18th and 19th century ormolu mounted Sevres, Dresden, Meissen and Royal Worcester.

Outdoor attractions include garden statuary, bronze fountain, life size mercury figure, life size dogs and garden urns.  

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