The Sotheby’s Australia June 5 Important Aboriginal Art sale held in Melbourne was further evidence that the Aboriginal art market will react with enthusiasm when they are offered top quality, rare works that have excellent provenance.

A tightly curated, selective catalogue of works – a formula that has proven profitable for Sotheby’s Australia time and time again – produced a clearance rate of 59% and a sale total of $1,167,450 (hammer price) which was great news for the company.

The fact that several works went beyond their top estimate, and two artist auction records were set during the sale, was further evidence that collectors and investors are willing to spend big money for the right works.

The final price of $180,000 achieved for Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi’s Big Cave Story was the highlight of the sale and a new auction record for the artist. The epic painting was purchased by gallerist Bill Nutall who is rumoured to have been bidding on behalf of the National Gallery of Australia.

Another highlight of the sale was Garimala and Bulukbun by Ginger Riley Munduwalawala which attracted a hammer price of $80,000 against an estimate of $80,000-$100,000.

One of the most fought-over items was a large 161.5 X 125cm painting by Prince of Wales (Midpul) which achieved a hammer price of $38,000 against an estimate of $25,000-$35,000.
The following lot, Tommy Watson’s Pukara, also saw keen interest sending bids well beyond the $80,000 high estimate for a hammer price of $95,000.

Commenting on the sale, Geoffrey Smith, Chairman of Sotheby’s Australia said that “These results reaffirm Sotheby’s Australia’s market strategy of carefully curated auction catalogues that concentrate on works of the highest quality and significance”.