South Africa’s Financial Mail gives a tour of the SA auction house landscape casually mentioning that Bonhams is thought to have us$17m in annual turnover:
As prices and the flurry have begun to settle since the 2011 peak, though, auction houses have begun quietly assessing how best to manage and sustain the interest and stabilise the market.
In SA, there are two main auction houses, Strauss & Co and Stephan Welz & Co, followed by Pretoria’s Bernardi Auctioneers, which have handled the bulk of the big sales in SA recent years.
Internationally, Bonhams in London remains the only major auction house with a dedicated SA art department, but could be facing some competition from Sotheby’s, which is expanding its African department (and market), and a new online upstart, Artnet Auctions.
According to Ruarc Peffers, Strauss & Co’s senior paintings specialist, of the auction house’s R160m turnover last year, at least R130m was SA art. “There is no question that there is a resurgence in SA art, which started about four or five years ago, and it continues to resonate,” says Peffers.
“African art, especially SA art, is very much in vogue now. Maybe it’s because SA is becoming re-engaged with the international community,” he says. “There is still the hint of the exotic and the suggestion of darkness that [collectors] find appealing.” The record price set for an Irma Stern at auction in SA was by Strauss & Co in 2011, when Two Arabs, an oil on canvas (in the original Zanzibar frame) sold for more than R21m.
Art Market: Auction Houses Reflect SA (Financial Mail)