A CASUAL observer of the Aboriginal art market would have been surprised this week to see two successful auctions in Melbourne.
After three years of dire prognostications of imminent extinction, Mossgreen’s sale of Aboriginal art from the collection of John W. Kluge and Sotheby’s Australia’s auction of important Aboriginal art were successful. Held on successive, blustery winter nights, each attracted about 100 people, and Mossgreen’s staff was kept busy with brisk phone and internet bidding.
The twin results were so good they engendered complimentary comments rarely heard in an industry typified by ungenerous competitiveness. Mossgreen’s managing director Paul Sumner praised Sotheby’s: “They curated the sale well, reduced the number of lots and offered works with good provenance that hadn’t been round and around.”
Veteran Aboriginal art gallery owner Beverly Knight says, “It was an excellent auction, well curated, and the reserves were spot-on.”
Sotheby’s chairman Geoffrey Smith says: “We understand it’s about rebuilding confidence in the overall indigenous market, which had been curtailed by the GFC.”