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Strauss & Co reaffirms its global supremacy in the South African art market

  20 March 2015     Archived

Prices for high quality South African and international art soared at Strauss & Co's auction held this week in Cape Town. The sale achieved a total of R50 million and a value sell-through rate of over 84%, once again the highest in the current market, reaffirming Strauss & Co's position as global leader for South African art. The packed saleroom, a regular feature of Strauss & Co's evening sales, was marked by competitive bidding and many exciting surprises ensued.

Lot 614: Robert Hodgins 'J'accuse'
Robert Hodgins J'accuse sold for R2 500 960

J'accuse, which provides a brilliant dissection of the notorious Dreyfus Affair, by celebrated artist Robert Hodgins, sold for R2 500 960, setting a new world record for the artist. Strauss & Co now holds the top eleven consecutive world records for Hodgins. Works by contemporary South African and International artists, which featured prominently in this sale, were snatched up by local and international collectors often driving prices above their presale estimates, reaffirming that the demand in South Africa for contemporary art is on the rise. This bodes well for the development of a healthy and strong secondary market for South African contemporary art in which Strauss & Co will continue to play a seminal role.

The top lot of the sale, Schmerzensmann III by Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, which sold for R 3 410 400, was purchased by a private international collector. The significance of this work is such that it has been requested for the exhibition titled The Problem of God at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf later on this year.

De Bruyckere
Berlinde De Bruyckere Schmerzensmann III sold for R3 410 400

Following the fantastic results achieved in November last year by Strauss & Co for works by William Kentridge, Head, proved a sale highlight selling for R1 477 840. A popular work by Ed Young of Emeritus Archbishop Tutu swinging from a chandelier sold for R852 600, almost double its presale estimates. Acquired by the previous owner from IDASA, it was purchased on Monday evening by a major South African collector who, later on this year, intends to exhibit it in the Trumpet – the first mixed use building in Rosebank’s (Johannesburg) newly designed Arts Precinct in Keyes Avenue where it will be on public view.

JH Pierneef 'The Maluti Mountains'
JH Pierneef The Maluti Mountains sold for R1 818 880

Strauss & Co continues to maintain a consistently high percentage sold rate. Eleven works by the undisputed master of the South African landscape, JH Pierneef, all sold following on the success of 2014 when 22 out of 28 works sold and a world record of R11 936 000 was achieved. These include Wild Pear Trees which realised R2 046 240, followed closely by The Maluti Mountains which realised R1 818 880. The latter work was purchased originally by Dr SH Pellissier, a remarkable man instrumental in developing South Africa's educational and cultural institutions, testifying to the importance of provenance in addition to quality. Irma Stern, Robert Hodgins and Walter Battiss amongst others, also sold exceptionally well.

Vladimir Tretichikoff's sensational Zulu Maiden topped the local list selling for R3 183 040. Purchased in 1982 for R 1700, the present value today would be R 27,408 taking into account inflation (8.79% per annum). Monday's achievement means that the return on this purchase is 185,646%!

The front cover of the catalogue was a rare early portrait by Wolf Kibel of his son Joseph. Produced towards the end of the artist's tragically brief life this captivating masterpiece, sold for an astounding R2 955 680. Strauss & Co has consistently held the world record for Kibel whose rare works are highly sought after by collectors.

Other South African highlights include Alexis Preller’s Mapogga Wedding which sold for R1 477 840, Maggie Laubser's Lake Garda which sold for R568 400, and Penny Siopis's Pine which sold for R659 344.

After the sale the auctioneer commented:
"The auction proved that great art, well presented, will always achieve great results. Once again, the sale was topped by a broad spectrum of celebrated South African artists both modern and contemporary, thus showing a healthy deepening and broadening of the market - a trend that has yet to take off in London."

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