An Australian Auction House Declines a Controversial Nude–Why?
Bill Henson is an Australian photographer. But The Australian thinks a local auctioneer Chris Deutscher isn’t being upfront when it cites controversy over the images as the reason to turn down a Henson for auction in November:
The image was of a young nude girl. Mr Deutscher, who has been selling Henson’s work since the early 1990s, estimated it would fetch about $3000 to $4000. But after considering the public outcry following last May’s police raid on a Sydney gallery, he told the collector thanks, but no thanks.
“We were offered a contentious nude, which we’ve declined — it’s not worth the hassle,” he said yesterday. “The price we would get for it, well, it’s just not worth the publicity and the waste of time that would come with it.”
The next part wouldn’t make sense without the acknowledging the weak auctions in Australia this August and September, but still it is an odd tangent:
Art experts contacted by The Australian agreed that an art market crash was more likely to adversely affect prices for Henson’s work than any public fracas over images of nude children. “I think he (Henson) will be a victim of the Australian art market in general, not the child activists,” dealer Denis Savill said. “We are already seeing that there are fewer buyers for all artists, including Henson.”
Here’s how Henson’s dealer responds:
Henson’s Melbourne dealer, Jan Minchin, of Tolarno Galleries, said collector interest in Henson was constant. Prices ranged from $25,000 for recent photographs to $250,000 for a collage from the series shown at the Venice Biennale in 1995.
For several years Henson has enjoyed a strong reputation among local and international private collectors and public art museums, including Loti and Victor Smorgon, Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull, Elton John, New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris.
Respected international auction house Phillips de Pury & Company has listed a Henson work, Untitled, 2001, for its New York auction on October 16. The work carries an estimated price of $US12,000 to $US18,000 ($18,000-$27,000).
Auction House Deutscher and Hackett Pass Up Henson Work (The Australian)