24 June 2016 Archived
Last year Strauss & Co achieved its highest turnover in its eight-year history, setting 21 new artists'' records and showing depth in the market with impressive sales across all departments. While 2015 ended with the untimely loss of Stephan Welz, the company''s founding Managing Director, Strauss & Co''s midyear results are testimony to the resilience of the company and the confidence that clients have in the expertise and integrity of its staff.
The mid-year results reaffirm Strauss & Co's position as the global leader for South African art with a turnover of R90 736 710 and a sell-through rate over 80%. "Our market-related estimates remain at the core of our practice and are substantiated by our consistently high sell-through rate," says Bina Genovese, joint Managing Director.
Strauss & Co's Cape Town auction in March was dominated by works by Robert Hodgins, three of which featured amongst the top ten lots. The highlight was undoubtedly Hodgins' Bad Man with Great Threads which sold for R2,4 million, tripling the pre-sale estimate. Strauss & Co holds all the records for the artist including the R2,6 million achieved for J'Accuse in March 2015.
A further highlight was Walter Battiss's Red Rock which sold for R1,8 million. Executed in 1949 it constitutes a seminal work in the artist's oeuvre. Birds and Boats by Maggie Laubser, one of the most appealing paintings by Laubser to appear at auction in recent years, sold for R1,5 million, setting the bar for the selection of works by the artist that will be on offer in Cape Town later this year. A number of these works were found on a recent series of valuations in the Eastern Cape. Vanessa Phillips, Joint Managing Director, commented "We are excited by the works consigned as they are fresh to the market and have excellent provenance".
While South Africa's weaker currency and other external economic factors might have been expected to dampen the market, exchange rates favouring international buyers resulted in an increased interest from abroad. In particular this trend is illustrated by a group of 'Persian style' illustrations by the Russian artist Paul Mak which sold for R932 000 following fierce competition between ten international telephone bidders. Visiting auctioneer Dendy Easton, former director of Sotheby's UK and well-known for his appearances on the BBC Antiques Roadshow, noted "This exceptional result underscores Strauss & Co's power to exploit the internet to reach a global audience."
The strong market for fine Cape furniture was once again evident. Pieces once part of the historic Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West achieved R2,4 million which included the highest price ever paid for a gate-leg table. Interest in Cape history continued with the 100% sell-through rate for a single owner collection of fine Cape silver which totalled over R1,1 million.
The Johannesburg May auction was headlined by Irma Stern's Portrait of Freda Feldman with Basuto Hat which realised over R5 million. This arresting portrait was repatriated to South Africa from Australia confirming our clients' confidence in Strauss & Co to handle works of this calibre. The sale was marked by confident bidding on the eleven works on offer by JH Pierneef which all sold well over their pre-sale estimates. A further encouraging sign of the market's strength was the competition for Vladimir Tretchikoff's Sunflowers which saw R1.7 million achieved against a pre-sale estimate of R400 000 - 600 000.
Portrait of Freda Feldman in Basuto Hat
R5 115 600
Jacob Hendrik Pierneef
R1 818 880
Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff
R1 705 200
Robert Griffiths Hodgins
Bad Man with Great Threads
R2 387 280
Walter Whall Battiss
R1 818 880
It was once again pleasing to see the continuing appetite for contemporary South African art evident both in Cape Town and Johannesburg with artists such as William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, Sue Williamson, Willem Boshoff, Pieter Hugo, Kudzanai Chiurai and Andrew Verster all performing exceptionally well. Strauss & Co's results attest to the extraordinary growth in this area of the market over the last few years and Art Specialist Alex Richards believes that the "interest is in line with global trends focusing on contemporary African and South African art".
The second half of 2016 opens with new players entering the market and changes in our Johannesburg and Cape Town offices. "New entrants suggest buoyancy and confidence in the art market" says Bina Genovese, "and Strauss & Co will continue to be at the forefront of the development of the South African art market. Our commitment to our clients is unwavering and we look forward to exceptional results in the second half of the year".
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