A 100-year-old Charles Goldie work unknown to the art world until its owner put it up for sale sold for $456,800, nearly twice its predicted price.

Goldie painted Kapi Kapi, an Arawa Chieftainess in 1918. It had been expected to sell for up to $260,000 at an Auckland auction on Tuesday night.

Director of the International Art Centre in Parnell, Richard Thomson, said the art world oblivious to the painting's existence until he was contacted by the owner.

"Kapi Kapi was one of Goldie's favourite subjects and it's a very fine example of his extraordinary ability to capture the mana of his subject in a very personal way.

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"To say we were surprised and excited when the owner brought it to our gallery is an understatement.

"It was one of those rare moments which we were not expecting," Thomson said.

Bids flew in from around the country and it was finally sold to a private collector after fierce bidding.

The sale also included works from other New Zealand artists and a collection from the Chunn family - the family who began Split Endz in the 1970s.

"This was a very strong sale with very strong bidding. It was huge with many going well beyond their predicted prices.

"It was one of the best catalogues we have had for some time," Thomson said.