Melbourne comprehensive collection brings almost double its estimate

Almost everything in the comprehensive collection of late Melbourne businessman Harry Oviss sold at Gibson’s Auctions three-day sale from October 3-5 at nearly twice its total estimated catalogue value.

A native of Palestine, Harry migrated in 1924 to Australia while still a baby – with his parents, who became successful business people, searching for a better life.

Harry, too, was destined to become a business success – first as a clothing and fashion magnate in exclusive knitwear in the iconic Block Arcade, and later as a property developer.

Success enabled Harry to indulge his collecting passion and over a lifetime he built an enviable store of paintings, ceramics, designer furniture and jewellery.

Australian artist Roger Kemp’s (1907-1987) work Poem in Space (lot 157) was the top selling auction lot, changing hands for $23,180 including buyer’s premium.

Danish designer Hans Wegner’s circa 1951 pair of Danish teak Papa Bear armchairs (lot 733) filled second spot at $21,960 while American artist Andy Warhol’s (1930-1987) Boxing Glove was third.

Strong interest was shown in jewellery with lot 3, a gent’s gold link chain, typical of the bidding result at $10,980.

The work Ribbons of Sunlight (lot 420) by English painter and printmaker Weaver Hawkins (1893-1977) – who specialised in ambitious modernist allegories of morality for an age of atomic warfare and global over-population – was something of a shock when it realised the same price as lot 3 against a catalogue estimate of $500-$700.

Edwin Tanner’s (1920-1980) Little Man 1962 (lot 162) was another satisfactory performer, although at $10,370 ($8500 hammer price) a little below the catalogue estimate.

Melbourne artist Anne Hall also featured in the top 10 for her rendition of one of Melbourne’s favourite painters, the late Mirka Mora (lot 197), completed in 1967 and bringing $9760 – the price also paid for a pair of Hans Wegner Danish CH28 teak Sawbuck chairs (lot 730).

Leonard French (1928-2017) and Clifford Last (1918-1991) shared ninth spot for their respective works Girl on Carousel 1950 (lot 168) and wooden sculpture Quartette 1966 (lot 292) – each selling for $9150, the latter against a $200-$400 estimate. 

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