Summary overview of Strauss & Co’s bumper half-year in 2019
15 August 2019
Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading auction house, achieved R195.9 million (R195 936 848) in the period January through June from eight sales. The March live sale in Cape Town became the first-ever art auction in South Africa to earn more than R100-million when it netted R107-million (R107 053 325) with a 86.5% combined sell-through rate by lot and by value.
The decorative arts component of the Cape Town day sale earned a highly respectable R10.8 million (R10 842 964).
The Johannesburg day sale in May brought in a solid R61 million (R61 234 669).
Strauss & Co’s two benchmark live sales in Cape Town and Johannesburg together netted R168 million (R168 287 994) – about 85% of the half-year turnover.
The 107-lot contemporary art sale, held in Cape Town in February, grossed R12.8 million (R12 028 660) and established over 20 new world records and six South African records.
The inaugural Fine Wine Auction, held in Johannesburg in June, featured 183 lots and achieved R1 456 413 with an 85.25% lot sell-through rate.
Saturday Live, a new developmental sale hosted exclusively in Johannesburg, earned R6.3 million (R6 258 864).
Strauss & Co’s three online auctions, held in March, April and May, earned a combined total of nearly R8 million (R7 904 917).
Notable single-owner collections offered by Strauss & Co in 2019: The Sol Munitz Collection, The Mavis and Louis Shill Collection, The Dr J.R. and Mary Strong Collection and The Dr Johan Bolt Collection.
Irma Stern cemented her status as the most sought-after South African artist at auction, topping both the Cape Town and Johannesburg sales.
The top-performing Stern lot, Arab, a previously unrecorded portrait of an Omani nobleman from the court of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, sold for R20 484 000.
Anton van Wouw’s only known bronze maquette of statesman Paul Kruger, cast by the Roman foundry of Giovanni Nisini, sold for R10 469 600, a new world record.
Athi-Patra Ruga’s The Night of the Long Knives I, a colour photograph of a balloon-clad figure astride a zebra, sold for R1 707 000, becoming the first photograph to sell for more than R1-million at auction in South Africa.
The top-selling wine lot was a Jaubert Family Muscat d'Alexandrie 1800, South Africa’s oldest living wine, which sold for R51 210.