Brett Kebble was a flamboyant South African mining magnate with close ties to the ANC on one side and the suspicion of shady dealings on the other. His murder a few years ago only added to the dark hints of organized crime and chicanery. Kebble was also an important collector of South African art. The sale of his holdings in early May has the potential to throw gasoline on the already heated SA art market. Bloomberg fills us in:
The collection of 133 items includes Stern’s “Woman Sewing Karos” and “Mother and Child,” Alexis Preller’s “Christ Head” and Maria Magdalena Laubser’s “Portrait of an Old Woman with Head Scarf: Landscape in Background.” It also has pieces from Vladimir Tretchikoff, William Kentridge, J.E.A. Volschenk and Pieter Venning.
The sale, for which a catalog will become available April 16, comes as the auction value increased for South African art this year. Strauss & Co. raised a record 38 million rand for South African art at an auction held March 8 in Johannesburg, including 7.15 million rand for Stern’s still life portrait “Magnolias in an Earthenware Pot,” according to its Web site.
“Brett knew his art and over the years he has collected quite valuable art,” Jack Rosewitz, deputy chairman of Johannesburg-based Stephan Welz & Co. in Association with Sotheby’s, said in an interview. “He had an enormous collection and South African art is quite hot on the local market.”
London-based Bonhams last month achieved record prices for 12 South African artists, including Laubser’s “Indian Girl With Poinsettias,” which sold for 276,000 pounds ($402,546), beating pre-sale estimates of 100,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds, while a piece by Preller sold for more than double the highest predicted amount, according its Web Site.