Colin Gleadell got the early tip on Sotheby’s announcement that the auction house is making another run at bringing Aboriginal art back to the market after the crushing decline of the last several years:
Sotheby’s is to stage its first ever auction of aboriginal art in London next month. The timing may be good considering it coincides with the British Museum’s current exhibition, but in financial terms it comes while the aboriginal art market is still in decline. Fifteen years ago it was a booming industry, but in the last 10 years, beset with problems of authenticity not to mention the moral indignation which surrounds the exploitation of the Aborigines, prices have fallen and auctions have thinned out. Sotheby’s has not held a specialised aboriginal art sale there since 2005. The London sale is based around 64 works from the Thomas Vroom collection, which is based in Amsterdam. It includes not only “dot” paintings by leading contemporary artists, Rover Thomas and Emily Kngwarreye, but also 200-year-old stone carved shields, and bark paintings from the mid-20th century. Previous ownership has been meticulously recorded, an important factor in confirming authenticity, and prices will range from a few thousand pounds to £80,000 for a large, museum quality painting by Kngwarreye.
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