Sara Everingham from ABC News reports on the Sotheby’s Auction that failed to meet expectations.

The highlights (or lowlights) were:

  • Less than half of the work on offer cleared
  • No works reached $1 million dollars
  • The auction only raised $3.6 million

If the results of Sotheby’s Aboriginal art auction in Sydney last night are anything to go by, the art industry in Australia has some tough times ahead.

Less than half of the work on offer cleared and there were none of the $1 million sales seen at auctions last year.

The pre-sale estimates ranged from $7.6 million to $11.4 million, but the auction only raised $3.6 million.

There was, however, a positive start to the night at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

A final price of $84,000 was paid for a kidney-shaped north-east Queensland rainforest shield collected by a settler, Robert Stewart, before 1881.

It was the highest amount fetched at auction for an Aboriginal artefact.

But while there was strong interest in artefacts last night, other pieces did not sell so well.

Collectors are tightening their belts and, for the most part, last night they bidded with caution.

“What was not so strong were the more decorative and contemporary paintings which people really buy as a luxury item to decorate their house,” said Tim Klingender, head of Aboriginal Art at Sotheby’s.

“There’s obviously a worldwide correction across share markets and indeed art markets, we’re beginning to see that flow-on now, and I think many people are gripped by some sort of fear.”

He says contemporary artists should prepare to tighten their belts as collectors fall on harder times.