News-Antique.com - May 24,2009 - The biggest problem that Deutscher and Hackett faced with their April 29th Fine Art Auction was a lack of consistency. An encouraging run of consecutive strong results and new auction records followed by a period where a consecutive run of 18 works produced only 4 sales and six works in row failed to sell left everyone wondering which way things would go. The Hicks Collection of Australian Social Realism signaled a good start to the auction with plenty of interest in the collection from public galleries which purchased 16 works from the collection. According to Deutscher and Hackett “The Hicks Family Collection of Social Realism followed, attracting significant interest from national, state and regional galleries, who accounted for 20 acquisitions of works of art in the auction”. A total of 75% of the Hicks Family collection sold with several of the works achieving above their high estimate most notably Jeffrey Smart’s ‘Sunday Morning Service’ which made $175,000 (hammer price) against an estimate of $80-120,000, Herbert Badham’s ‘The Night Bus’ which fetched $60,000 (hammer price) against an estimate of $25-35,000 and Weaver Hawkin’s ‘Technicolour’ which went for $44,000 (hammer price) against an estimate of $20-30,000.
The works from the Hicks collection that failed to find a buyer included Drysdale’s ‘Men Mixing Concrete’ which had an estimate of $120-150,000 (sold previously for $117,500 including premium in 2003), Eric Wilson’s ‘The Inmate” which had an estimate of $40-60,000 (sold for $44,600 including premium in 2001 and Charles Blackman’s ‘Man in Dark Street’ which had an estimate of $50-70,000. To Deutscher and Hackett’s credit, the sale of the Hicks collection facilitated new auction records for Weaver Hawkins, Harald Vike, George Duncan and Edmund Harvey.
The second of the private collections included in the auction titled ‘Works of Art from an Important Private Collection’ was a complete failure in comparison with the Hicks Collection. In fact, only 3 of the 15 works sold leaving some of the most valuable works in the auction without buyers including:
-’View of Melbourne Looking Across the Yarra from the Botanical Gardens’ by Henry Gritten which had an estimate of $120-$160,000. This work was last offered for sale in 2003 by Sotheby’s where it also failed to sell with an estimate of $80-120,000.
-’View of Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens’ by James Howe Carse which had an estimate of $110-$140,000. Previously sold by Deutscher Menzies in December 2007 for $120,000 (including premium) against an estimate of $100,000-150,000
-’A Quiet Stream (Heidelberg)’ by Tom Roberts which had an estimate of $250-$350,000.
The 12 works that failed to sell from the ‘Works of Art from an Important Private Collection’ were worth just over $850,000 (mid estimate total) which had a major impact on the whole auction. There was nothing wrong with the works from this collection but they just didn’t offer that something special that buyers are looking for at the moment. Looking at the rest of the auction that consisted of works from various vendors, there were some standout works such