Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Record year for high-end art

High-priced paintings and sculpture give fast cars a run for their money

Part of Bill Hammond's Farmer's Market, which set a $328,300 auction record.
Part of Bill Hammond's Farmer's Market, which set a $328,300 auction record.

First it was fast cars, now there's another sign that the economy is on the up: the booming art market.

Leading New Zealand auction house Webbs says 31,000 items went under the hammer this year, pulling in $17 million.

"It has been a record year in the history of the art market and our busiest time for two decades," managing director Neil Campbell said.

The figure at the top of the $17.5k Toki Poutangata handle represents NZ's 14th premier, John Ballance.
The figure at the top of the $17.5k Toki Poutangata handle represents NZ's 14th premier, John Ballance.

"It is a good indication that confidence is returning to the economy."

There had been a jump in interest in fine wine, jewellery and top-end art works.

There had also been a surge of casual online traders and students bidding for a bargain.

Webbs sold a collection of Bill Hammond's paintings for more than $1.1m, including Farmer's Market for $328,300, the record for a living New Zealand artist.

More than $800,000 of paintings by Maori portraitist Charles Frederick Goldie went under the hammer, and one of the last works painted by the great female modernist Evelyn Page, Breakfast at Hobson St, sold for $193,452.

Auction sales of paintings, sculpture and photography hit a record $20.7m in New Zealand last year, says the Australian Art Sales Digest.

The booming economy was also being credited when the Herald on Sunday revealed last weekend that three well-heeled motorists had splashed out $1.5m each on McLaren P1 hypercars, and former 42 Below co-owner Grant Baker had just ordered a $2.2m top-of-the-range Ferrari.


Treasures under the hammer

Antique Chinese carved rhino horns - $797,300. Record price for any antique piece sold in New Zealand and bought as a family gift for an 80th birthday celebration.

Antique carved rhino horns, which sold for $797,300.
Antique carved rhino horns, which sold for $797,300.

A 5ct cushion cut diamond - $205,187. Highest recorded price for a loose stone in New Zealand.

A 2001 bottle of DRC La Romanee-Conti - $10,552.50. One of the most sought-after bottles of wine in the world.

The ship's wheel from the HMNZS Kiwi - $16,400. The Kiwi rammed the Japanese submarine I-1 in World War II.

Toki Poutangata handle - $17,587. Has a figure at the top representing New Zealand's 14th premier, John Balance.

- Herald on Sunday

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