New record set for most expensive artwork sold at auction in New Zealand
Webb’s Auction House/Supplied
Colin McCahon’s coin has been described as the crown jewel of the Bank of New Zealand’s collection.
A new record has been set for the most expensive work of art sold at auction in New Zealand.
Colin McCahon’s painting from 1982 Is there anything you can say, look, it’s new? broke the record when it sold for $2.45 million on Sunday.
The work was one of McCahon’s last three paintings and was estimated before the auction at between $1.5 and $2.5 million.
It was sold with the first batch of works from the Bank of New Zealand Art Collection at Webb’s Auction House. Total sales exceeded $13.5 million and the auction was a “white glove sale”, with all 50 lots selling out the same day.
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It broke the previous record – A Peak in Darien by Michael Parekōwhai, which sold for $2,051,900 last year – and reclaimed the title for McCahon. Prior to the sale of Parekōwhai’s play, McCahon’s The Canoe Tainui held the record, reaching $1.58 million in 2016.
The auction also saw price records set for works by Robin White, Tony Fomison, Brent Wong, Evelyn Page, A Lois White and many more.
All proceeds from the auction will be used to establish the BNZ Foundation, a philanthropic entity designed to support the work of organizations nationwide helping communities thrive.
The collection was one of the largest ever assembled in New Zealand, said Charles Ninow, Webb’s artistic director.
The “incredible results achieved [were] testament to the quality of work in this collection,” he said.
The collection had toured the country, with visits to Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, ahead of the auction.
It had been assembled in a relatively short window of time – between 1981 and 1987 – with the stock market crash of October 1987 ending the bank’s collection largesse.
The second highest price of the day was for The Fugitive by Tony Fomison. The 1982-83 work was the subject of fierce competition and sold for $1.86 million – the highest price ever for a work by Fomison.
Another standout result was Robin White’s Glenda in Tahakopa, painted in his distinctive late 1970s style, depicting a friend in Otago. This artwork was purchased by Te Papa, with Design, by A Lois White.
With a pre-auction estimate of between $250,000 and $350,000, Glenda at Tahakopa fetched $416,245, easily beating the old record for one of White’s paintings of $230,000 from the end of the last year.