Sotheby’s Australia had a marginally successful sale filled with fireworks at the low and unexpected end:
The paintings that the financial success of the sale largely rested on – works by Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley and John Brack – sold mostly for their low or mid-estimates […] Boyd’s 1957 Bride Running Away at $1.4 million, Nolan’s 1945 Kelly and Lonigan at $400,000, and Brack’s 1980 Journey for $725,000, all hammer prices at or close to their low estimates. But it was other works by less famous figures, priced more conservatively, that sent a thrill through the auction room. […] A circa 1792 watercolour drawing of a grey butcher bird, or hook-billed shrike, by an artist known as “the Sydney bird painter”, it made a $180,000 hammer, more than three times its $50,000 low estimate […] An 1874 painting of sheep and a man at Yarra Flats by William Ford doubled its high estimate to fetch a $50,000 hammer, as did Tom Roberts’ 1924 The South Wind, which was knocked down for $60,000. An early Ray Crooke, The Passage (1964), did the same when it made a $42,000 hammer.
A colourful 1958 painting of a boy in a Turkish cap by Justin O’Brien sold for $92,000, more than double its high estimate. The O’Brien buyer also snared a 1995 Margaret Olley, Yellow Tablecloth with Cornflowers, for $80,000, above its $50,000 to $70,000 estimate, and a 1977-78 painting of Werribee Gorge by Fred Williams for a $360,000 hammer, $40,000 above its high estimate.
Sotheby’s auction grosses $6.3 million (Australian Financial Review)