South Africa’s Strauss continues to make records with Irma Stern paintings even as her work slowly creeps into the London Day and Evening sales of Modern art. The non-South African market is having trouble keeping up with the prices achieved on the African continent. Strauss was able to sell 39.257m Rand in art ($3.85m)
At Strauss & Co’s Important South African Paintings auction held this evening at the Country Club in Woodmead, a major portrait by celebrated artist Irma Stern sold for a startling R17 267 000 [$2.065m], the second highest price ever achieved for a painting sold at auction in South Africa (the highest price was achieved last year when Strauss & Co sold Two Arabs also by Stern for R21 166 000). In an auction first, the painting depicting a distinguished Omani gentleman was proudly introduced to a packed auction room by His Excellency Mr Khalid Ba’Omar, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman who spotted it in the Sunday Times and recognised the sitter as being from his country. Thereafter the auctioneer took over and after fierce bidding between the room and the telephones, the painting was finally knocked down for double the auction house’s pre-sale estimate selling to a South African buyer in the room. Rapturous applause ensued.
Numerous other record prices were established with many lots realising three to six times their pre-sale estimate. A notable record was that for Alfred Thoba’s 1976 Riots which sold for R913 480 over R800 000 more than his previous record. Two works by Robert Hodgins, Et in Arcadia Ego and A Gentleman from Mexico, sold for R1002 600 and R779 800 respectively, setting a new record for the artist.