The art auction year got off to a hesitant start in Melbourne on Wednesday night, indicating that it was still very much a buyers’ market – and that buyers were treading warily.

In the year’s first big auction, Deutscher and Hackett put 276 Aboriginal artworks put under the hammer – but only 164, or 59 per cent, sold. In all, a total of $1.57 million of art was sold (including buyers’ commissions), 60.5 per cent by value, markedly less than the $2.175 million to $3.102 million Deutscher and Hackett had anticipated.

”There is a bit of caution; people don’t seem to be as prepared to take a punt on a good painting,” said Crispin Gutteridge, Deutscher and Hackett’s head of Aboriginal art.



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Gallery: Deutscher and Hackett ,