I was interested to see how the secondary market was doing so it was off to Menzies to check it out. On the menu were predominantly 'modern australian' works (50's to 90s) with a handful of contemporary pieces from this century. Fresh in my mind was the following quote of a collector profiled in the March issue of Monocle ... "I research a lot, I go to fairs. I don't go to auctions because I don't buy secondhand. I buy directly from the galleries or the artists." Ouch! I'd have to keep my paddle on my lap.
This would be pretty easy as the only thing I was contemplating bidding on was a Daniel Boyd (King No Beard from 2006 - pictured left, the youngest work they had all night) although I was also interested to see how some of the contemporary artists would fare. I arrived at about lot 30 and they were going slooooow. Interesting crowd although not many under 40. The big sale was a bidding war for the Brett Whitely that graced the cover of the catalogue, eventually being knocked down for $1.56 million. It was a huge piece and admittedly quite stunning but imagine what you could get for that - hey Tim Olsen, I'll take all your shows from now till Chrissy, wrap 'em! The guy next to me got in a bidding war for a Ray Crooke (probably the only older work I would have wanted, and then only because I have a tiki bar to decorate ...) and he just missed out at $33k.
The interesting stuff was towards the back of the night. Alistair McIntyre was one of the first I recognized. There was a little bit of interest and this piece (The Ultimate Challenge from 2004) was knocked down for $4,000. Next was the Daniel Boyd. I was hoping there wouldn't be any bidders as I was only really interested getting a steal. But a couple of interested parties soon pushed it to $11k where it started to slow down and increase in $100 increments. One of the parties was the underbidder from the Whitely, amazingly he didn't win! I mean, bidding $1.5m for Brett and then not putting in another couple of hundred to get Daniel's King? Anyway $12,600 was the winning bid. But that is actually $15,120 with the 22% buyers premium and a little less than $11,000 for the seller - there's the auction house vig for you. Last lot I paid attention to was an early Darren Sylvester piece that was passed in at $7,500 for a set of 4 photos from 1999. It was an interesting night but it did confirm that it wasn't really my scene. A pity as auctions can be quite entertaining and I used to love going to Phillips De Pury when I lived in New York (but they have more of a reputation for auctioning fairly new work). If there is anything that really takes my fancy it will be absentee all the way.
Points, 3 for Brett (I bet Robin Gibson is wishing he hung on to that one); 2 for the Daniel Boyd and 1 for Ray Crooke.