22 November 2016 Archived
A year of robust auction sales at Strauss & Co has seen South Africa's leading auction house achieve a record turnover of R218 million (a 4% increase on 2015).
The exceptional result, the highest since the company's founding in 2009, is the product of a consistent sell-through rate of over 80% at its four live auctions in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The upbeat mood characterizing the October auction in Cape Town saw the auction house achieve sales of R58 million, a new record for the Cape Town office and the second highest individual sale result for Strauss & Co.
Strauss & Co's strong performance caps a year that started on a sad note with the death of its co-founder, veteran auctioneer Stephan Welz, in late 2015. Drawing on the impressive legacy left behind by Welz, the senior management team of Bina Genovese and Vanessa Phillips, Strauss & Co joint managing directors, quickly steadied the ship. Businessman and collector Frank Kilbourn was appointed Executive Chairman, bringing new energy and strategic focus to the auction house in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Bringing quality work to the market has always distinguished Strauss & Co's offering - and 2016 was another bumper year for collectors looking for rare and important works. Of particular note were ten works by Alexis Preller, many unseen for decades, which went under the hammer at the Johannesburg November auction. The sale of Preller's Adam (1969) for R6 820 800 and Space Angel (1971) for R6 593 440 achieved the second and third highest individual sales results in the auction house's history.
Notable sales of works by Karel Nel, Penny Siopis, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge and Norman Catherine affirmed the vigour of the contemporary art market. In October at the Cape Town auction, Lace Cloth (1983) by Penny Siopis fetched R1 136 800. The price matched a record-setting sale for a pastel triptych by Siopis, Hunting and Nature Scene (1986), sold at Strauss & Co in October 2015.
With the four live auctions now firmly established as important calendar events, Strauss & Co has moved to diversify both sales platforms, notably online. The most recent Strauss Online auction, which offered property from the estate of the late Liselotte Hardebeck, was the best performing online-only auction by lot and value sold. The July online-only auction was the highest grossing Strauss Online auction to date, netting over R4 million.
Strauss & Co has a firm commitment to social investment in art and culture. Throughout 2016 it engaged in numerous outreach programmes with school learners and young business professionals. It was involved in charitable auctions with the World Wildlife Fund, The Jewish Museum, Israel, University of Johannesburg, Gallery Momo, Cape Wine Auction and The Bag Factory, and once again co-sponsored Art Month at Welgemeend in Cape Town.