Aspire Art Auctions in breakthrough year

Every month, the MD of Aspire Art AuctionsRuarc Peffers, contributes a column on the business of collecting and investing in art.

Aspire Art Auctions
Athi-Patra Ruga, The Night of the Long Knives III, 2013

2018 proved a momentous year for the South African fine art auction market, and for Aspire Art Auctions, its newest entrant, in particular.
     The auction house hosted a total of six online auctions and four live sales, which saw the setting of a many world-record prices, especially in the contemporary segment.
     Aspire’s first sale of the year was held on 11 February 2018. The Contents of Deodar House sale comprised over 100 lots of selective fine arts, decorative items, antique and modern furniture, luxury jewellery, watches, and wine. The unique point about the sale was that the entire seller’s proceeds were donated to seed fund a new children’s leukaemia charity. The sale achieved the phenomenal sell-through rate of 82%, well above the industry average. The top seller was a sumptuous still life by Irma Stern, Hydrangeas and St Joseph lilies in the artist’s hand-made ceramic jug, which sold for R4 774 560, above its high estimate. The sale of the fine art lots on the Deodar sale was dominated by an exceptional collection of large outdoor sculpture. Among these, a highly coveted piece by William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx, Fire Walker (2010) achieved a price of R3 978 800. The sale also achieved world records for well-known South African contemporary artists Angus Taylor and Willem Boshoff, whose works Sit en Staan (2008) and Clast Mar (2009), which respectively attained top prices of R2 159 920 and R682 820.

Aspire Art Auctions
Peter Clarke, Lazy Day, 1975

     The associated Deodar House online sale, comprising various house contents and collectables, had the rare distinction of being a ‘white glove’ sale, with 100% of lots sold.
     The second sale of the year was held in Cape Town, on 25 March. Headlining its success was a rare intaglio by Alexis Preller, Gold Angel (Arêté), which sold for R4 638 400. This outstanding piece was part of Preller’s last body of work shown at the Goodman Gallery in 1975. However, the sale was perhaps most notable for its concentration of top quality contemporary art, led by a magnificent oil painting by Robert Hodgins, Night of the Awards, which fetched R2 087 280. Aspire was pleased to see a strong performance for the work Night of the Long Knives III by cutting-edge new South African star Athi-Patra Ruga, indicating the growth and diversity of contemporary collecting trends. The photographic work fetched R295 568, well above its high estimate. Other contemporary artists in this category included Zander Blom, whose painting Untitled 1.96 went for R170 520, and the well-known Penny Siopis, whose Help fetched R79 576, more than double its high estimate. A challenging painting by counter-cultural artist Conrad Botes, Origin, went for R170 520, by some distance the best price ever achieved by the artist at auction.

To read more about Aspire’s art auctions purchase your copy of our December 2018 / January 2019 issue from only R18! Or continue supporting the arts and culture sector by subscribing to our monthly Creative Feel magazine from R180 per year.