SA art sets records

2011-03-25 00:00

A PAINTING by Irma Stern smashed the record for a South African artwork at an auction in London on Wednesday evening.

Her Arab Priest sold for R34 million at Bonhams auction house, bettering the record of R26 million her Bahora Girl set in London last October.

Works by three other South African artists sold for personal records.

Alexis Preller’s Garden of Eden sold for R8,4 million, more than double the previous record of R4 million by this artist, while Gerald Sekoto’s Yellow Houses in District 6 sold for R6,7 million, breaking the previous record of R6 million. Francois Krige’s Basotho Town Scene sold for R1 million.

South African art expert Stephan Welz said the good news is that Arab Priest is headed back to the country. As far as he knew, he said, it was bought by a South African businessman.

The destinations of the other paintings are not known.

Julian Roup, director of media and marketing at Bonhams, said South African works were bought by bidders from Canada, Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Spain, England, Spain, the U.S., Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

“There were, however, several buyers from South Africa, as well as South African expats,” said Roup.

Bonhams director of South African art Giles Peppiatt said the sale total was just under R101,2 million and was expected to end closer to R112,4 million with the after-sales.

However, several works by Stern did not sell. Welz said this confirms the recent trend in South Africa that buyers of her works are becoming discerning and only the top quality paintings will sell.

“Auctioneers will certainly have to align their future valuations with this tendency,” said Welz.

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