Press Office

Art beats JSE Index

  16 March 2011     Archived

Cape Town: At Strauss & Co's first auction of the year held last week, showcasing some of the best that South African art has to offer, a total of R50 815 000 was achieved, the second highest total in the company's third year of operation. Three new records were secured: JH Pierneef, Pieter Wenning and Cape silver.

The stars of the show were JH Pierneef’s masterpiece Extensive Landscape Northern Transvaal and Irma Stern’s spectacular Still Life of Delphiniums which fetched R10,5 million respectively, once again making auction history.

Extensive Landscape Northern Transvaal shook the South African art market in 1985 when it became the first painting to break through the R100 000 mark, selling for R120 000. Twenty-five years later it has become the most expensive Pierneef to be sold at auction in South Africa. Furthermore it has proved that art has major investment potential. The gain of R9 380 000 equates to a tax-free 19.11% annualized return, compounded over twenty-five years, which exceeds the 17% (including dividends) generated by the JSE All Share Index for the same period. Still Life of Delphiniums, which in 1995 sold for R209 000, setting a new record not only for Irma Stern but for any South African painting sold at auction, is now the second most expensive still life by the artist, following closely behind Strauss & Co’s record achieved last year for Gladioli, which sold for R13 368 000. The latter generated a very pleasing tax-free return of 28.97% annualized, compounded over 15 years, also far outpacing the average 17.5% (including dividends) that the JSE All Share Index produced over the same period. The annualized return in both cases compares very favourably and is indeed much higher than the JSE All Share Index. As well as being a sound form of investment, art has the added benefit of providing daily enjoyment.

A gem by Pieter Wenning titled At Claremont, CP realised R1 782 000, setting a new record for the artist. It was painted in 1919 when an impoverished Wenning was lodging at the Vineyard Hotel and leading businessman and Member of Parliament, Dr William Duncan Baxter of Baxter Theatre fame, came to his rescue by settling his bill. His View of Keerom Street realised R1 448 20,0 the proceeds of which were donated to charity. These results indicate that Wenning is earning his rightful place alongside Pierneef and Stern.

Of the R2 million realised for the important Cape silver the four lots from the Du Plessis totalled R1,1 million. An important 18th century coffee pot by an unknown maker sold for R512 440 setting a record for Cape silver. It was followed closely by a sugar basket, also by an unknown maker, which sold for R490 160, in both cases nearly trebling the highest price paid for a piece of Cape silver.

Stephan Welz, Managing Director of Strauss & Co commented after the sale:
“The preview and auction were very well attended with the highest number of buyers yet registering for the auction. We are satisfied with our turnover of almost R51 million, up by R5 million from last year’s October auction and the 82% sold rate which continue to reflect a strong market . We noted a slight readjustment in the market for the high value paintings which tended to sell on the lower estimate”.

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