Sotheby’s Australian art sale made A$11.26m and was led by the collection of former Macquarie bank founder, David Clarke:
Kicking off the auction of the David Clarke collection was Justin O’Brien’s The Window No. 2, which fetched a hammer price of $130,000 – dwarfing the estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 – or a total of $158,600 with buyer’s premium. This was a new record for the artist.
Similarly with part-Aboriginal artist Lin Onus’s Frogs on Waterlilies which also set a record with a surprise premium-inclusive $512,400 on an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. Indeed, seven of the first 10 lots from the Macquarie bank luminary’s collection sold for well above their upper estimates. Perhaps the enthusiasm reflected interest from Clarke’s colleagues at the so-called millionaires factory, some of whom were seen at the pre-sale viewings.
Clarke, who died in 2011, was a co-founder of Macquarie Bank, serving as executive chairman from its formation in 1985 until 2007. His passion for art is believed to have been spurred by Macquarie’s corporate collection.
Further into the sale, Arthur Boyd’s Train Crossing a River (First Version) at $341,600 was more than three times the lower estimate while Cressida Campbell’s Banksias at a record $109,800 was more than double the lower estimate.
Less spectacular but still solid prices including premiums were recorded for John Brack’s little-known work First Daughter at $884,500, Brett Whiteley’s landscape Study for Kingfisher at $671,000, Jeffrey Smart’s The Bicycle Race (Death of Morandi) at $512,400 and Fred Williams’s Young Saplings, Kew Billabong at $366,000.
Among a small number of unsolds from the Clarke collection were Jeffrey Smart’s Study for Supermarket Car Park II, Lloyd Rees’s Summer in the Suburbs and Bronwyn Oliver’s Boa.