A rare piece of NZ contemporary art by the late Gordon Walters could fetch a record price if it sells under the hammer on Tuesday night.

The sought-after 1977 black-and-white koru artwork is being auctioned with an estimated price of between $500,000 and $800,000 after being held by a private Auckland collector for the past 20 years.

Art+Object director Ben Plumbly said very few of Walters artworks came up for sale as the majority were housed in public museums so it would be of interest to a collector interested in getting one of his major artworks.

"They are quite rare and the black-and-white koru paintings from the 1970s are considered by collectors to be his most desirable works."


Plumbly said there were not many pieces around because Walters, who is known for his modern abstract artworks, did not produce that many paintings due to his working method being so time-consuming and exacting.

"There's not a lot of paintings that come up for sale because he couldn't make enough paintings in his lifetime basically."

The last time Art+Object sold a Walters artwork was in 2013 for $430,000 and it has only ever sold one other black-and-white koru painting in 20 years.

"If it sells it would be a record price for Gordon Walters at auction."

Several collectors had expressed interest in the piece, but were "keeping their cards close to their chest".

The work, which measures 1220mm x 943mm, is one of 106 pieces being auctioned by Art+Object on Tuesday at 6.30pm.

Walters, one of New Zealand's most influential modern artists, died in 1995.

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