An art auction of "unprecedented quality and calibre" and boasting some of the biggest names in contemporary New Zealand art pulled in around $2 million when the works went under the hammer in Auckland last night.
More than 200 collectors attended Art + Object's first major art event of the year in Newton, with phone and online bidders from as far away as Europe also bidding on the 66 pieces.
Gordon Walters' Tautahi koru painting fetched $439,000 - a record for the artist and the highest price fetched at auction for a painting in NZ in two years, said auction house spokesman Ben Plumbly.
The work had been in a private Wellington collection since 1971, and was accompanied by five other paintings from Gordon Walters' estate.
"This sale was particularly special. It had some amazing works and some great opportunities for collectors. The quality and calibre of works is really unprecedented for an auction in New Zealand," said Mr Plumbly.
The exhibition of 20th and 21st century New Zealand art also had major examples from Shane Cotton, Michael Parekowhai, Seraphine Pick, Frances Hodgkins, John Pule and Andrew McLeod.
Colin McCahon's Noughts and Crosses fetched $280,000 and Milan Mrkusich's Painting Red $88,000, both popular works for their 1970s modernist styles.
Mr Plumbly said the success of the auction reflected the strength of New Zealand's art market.
"It shows that when you have works that are in beautiful condition, with a great history that are among the artists' finest examples, the market will pay accordingly."