News-Antique.com - May 24,2009 - A couple of posts ago I mentioned that it appears that there are two different approaches that auction houses are taking at the moment in an effort to combat the more conservative market and the more discerning buyers. The first approach involves going all out and putting together a large catalogue of works that many would consider far too optimistic in the current climate. A large and extensive catalogue increases the chances of achieving a higher sale total but usually at the cost of the clearance rate and sold by value rate. The second approach involves putting together a much smaller catalogue of works with a focus on quality and saleability in an effort to achieve a higher clearance and sold by value rate but at the expense of the sale total. Deutscher Hackett took the first option but appeared to have suffered because of it whereas Sotheby’s took the second option and seem to have benefited greately from their chosen approach.
The Hicks family collection proved to be a huge success for Deutscher and Hackett but the rest of the catalogue didn’t fair so well. Sotheby’s also had a private collection to sell, the Ken and Rona Eastaugh collection which I wrote about here. The difference between the approach that Deutscher and Hackett took and the approach that Sotheby’s took is that Sotheby’s conducted two separate auctions with two separate catalogues one of which was for the Ken and Rona Eastaugh collection and the other for the general multi-vendor Important Australian Art Auction. The auctions were conducted on two consecutive nights which allowed for the two catalogues to be connected yet remain separate. The first night was the auction of the Ken and Rona Eastaugh collection which proved to be a great success. A total of 55 of the 62 works of art offered for sale were sold resulting in a 89% clearance rate for the art section of the auction.
The first lot was a lovely work by Elioth Gruner that depicts people enjoying Tamara beach which sold for $75,000 against an estimate of $50,000-$60,000. A couple of works later and Arthur Streeton’s amazing ‘Oat Harvest’ bought in $95,000 against a $100,000-$150,000 estimate followed by Tom Robert’s ‘The Wood Splitters’ which blitzed the top estimate selling for $54,000 against a $28,000 to $38,000 estimate. The first disappointment of proceedings came with Julian Ashton’s ‘A Chip of the Old Block’ which failed to sell with a $80,000-$120,000 estimate. Lot 13, a gorgeous painting of Circular Quay by Streeton with an estimate of $200,000-$300,000 and lot 15, a Rupert Bunny paintings titled ‘The Falling Star’ estimated to make $160,000-$200,000 were two of the most expensive works of the auction but unfortunately also failed to sell. Also failing to find a buyer was lot 23 which was another Streeton titled ‘The Incoming Tide’ that had an estimate of $120,000-$150,000. Some redemption came in the form of John Peter Russell’s ‘Pecheur Sur Falaise’, the highlight of the auction, which managed to bring