Reuters reports on the Sotheby’s Aboriginal and Oceanic art sale:

An auction of Aboriginal art fell far short of pre-sale expectations on Monday as the global financial crisis appeared to halt years of rapid growth, although a shield sold for a record A$84,000 ($59,000).

Auction house Sotheby’s Australia said the sale of Aboriginal works at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art realized $3.7 million compared to a pre-sale estimate of between $7.6 million and $11 million with a clearance rate of 42 percent.

But there were bright spots with a kidney-shaped shield from north-east Queensland, collected by settler Robert Stewart around the 1870s, selling for $84,000 — believed to be the highest price paid at auction for an Aboriginal artifact.

Head of Aboriginal art at Sotheby’s Australia, Tim Klingender, said this showed interest for historically significant works remained healthy after a boom period for Australian indigenous art.

“Whilst our total fell short of the low estimate, there had been unprecedented growth in recent years and strong international buying reaffirms the demand for important indigenous art,” Klingender said in a statement.