The rise of the Australian dollar had a negative effect on a ”disappointing” Sotheby’s auction of Aboriginal and Oceanic Art at its Armadale showroom yesterday.
The indigenous art market is mostly international and is generally measured in US dollars. When Sotheby’s set auction estimates for yesterday’s auction three months ago the Australian dollar was trading at about US65Â¢, but yesterday it was trading at about US91Â¢, which kept some buyers away.
The auction house had expected sales of the 177 lots offered to garner between $2.4 million and $3.6 million, but only $2.06 million was realised. One of the best results, however, was the $150,000 for a recently discovered charcoal and pencil on paper work by William Barak.
The untitled work, bearing the inscription ”King Barak, Yarra Tribe and Coranderrk Station”, was recently recovered in Paris, where it had been held by a French family since the late 19th century. It had been estimated to sell for between $60,00 and $80,000.
But works were picked up by buyers at a considerable discount on the estimated price. A large Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri painting – Possum Dreaming at Napperby – painted in 1979, was expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 but sold for $84,000.