Aspire Art Auction’s unique ground breaking house contents sale

13 Feb 2018

Almost R15 million raised, most of it for a new charity in the first ever house contents sale conducted by the rising star of the SA art auction world – at a sell-through rate of almost 82%.

TOP SELLER: Irma Stern: Hydrangeas and St Joseph lilies in the artist’s hand-made ceramic jug (1950) R4 774 560

Aspire Art Auctions’ latest sale, on 11 February 2018, was a first all round sale for the young, dynamic auction business. Although uniquely focused on fine art, they have just had spectacular success with their inaugural sale combining house contents. The Contents of Deodar House comprised over 100 lots of impeccably chosen fine arts, decorative items, antique and modern furniture, luxury jewellery, watches, and wine. The unique point about the sale is that the entire seller’s proceeds will be donated to seed fund a new children’s leukemia charity, the JELUKA4Good Children’s Leukemia Fund, is a non-profit organisation established to provide funding for the treatment of children suffering from leukemia who have no means. The sale achieved the phenomenal sell-through rate of 82%, well above the industry average.  

Headlining the success of the auction were several significant works of art. The top seller was a sumptuous still life by Irma Stern, Hydrangeas and St Joseph lilies in the artist’s hand-made ceramic jug, which sold for R4 774 560, against estimates of R3000 000-4 000 000. The sale of the fine art lots on the Deodar sale was dominated by an exceptional collection of large outdoor sculpture. Among these, a highly coveted piece by William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx, Fire Walker (2010) achieved a price of R3 978 800. ‘This is the last edition of the sculpture likely to be seen at auction for some considerable time, and it is our privilege to have handled its successful sale,’ said Aspire’s Director, senior art specialist and auctioneer Ruarc Peffers.

Other record-breaking successes on the sale were for well-known South African artists Angus Taylor and Willem Boshoff, whose works Sit en Staan (2008) and Clast Mar (2009) respectively attained top prices of R2 159 920 and R682 820. These are world-record prices at auction for both artists, beating previous auction prices by significant margins. A work by respected local sculptor Dylan Lewis, Trans-figure IX, fetched R909 440, well above a high estimate of R500 000. Commented Aspire Director and senior art specialist Mary Jane Darroll, ‘we’re very honoured to have been entrusted with this sale, which is to aid such a heart-felt cause, and so we’re very glad to have been able to contribute by achieving these world record prices for Taylor and Boshoff, affirming the strengthing trend of collecting major sculpture where we can exhibit in great gardens with idyllic weather. The sculptures on this auction are rare in their variety and quality, and in addition to these successes with the large sculptural works, it’s great to see continued interest in the market for our ‘”sculptor-laureate” Edoardo Villa, whose two works on the sale, Maquette for Durban Art Gallery (1984) and Standing form (2002) both sold well’.

Other major fine art lots to have done well on the auction included the beautifully subtle painting Marsh Lilies by respected realist painter John Meyer, which achieved a price of R500 192, above the high estimate. There were also pleasant surprises like the sculptural work Forms by Zimbabwean artist Chenjerai Chiripanyanga, which sold for R73 892, well over double its high estimate. Says Aspire director and senior art specialist Emma Bedford, ‘while not a huge painting collection, the Deodar painting lots have some works of real quality, and it’s testament to our positioning and market expertise that we have been able to achieve these prices in a very specialised sale. Our success with more contemporary work, like the Chiripanyanga sculpture and the solid performance of the Robert Hodgins painting in the Deodar collection, Street Scene (2001), which sold for R761 600, indicates the strength of our positioning in this market segment.’

The sale took place in the tranquil and tastefully arranged surrounds of the Deodar House and Gardens, where the large sculptures and central lily pond formed the backdrop to the fierce bidding in the garden marquee.

The furniture lots on the sale, a first for Aspire, proved a massive success, with competitive bidding on almost every lot. A pair of Paul Smith armchairs attracted much attention pre-sale, and sold for R125 048, more than double the high estimate. Then, an antique French oak dining table went for R136 416, also more than double its high estimate, and a set of Louis Ghost Kartell dining room chairs, designed by Phillipe Starck, did the same when they sold for R43 198.

Aspire art specialist Jacqui Carney, who was instrumental in cataloguing and setting up the sale, concludes: ‘As a company, we’ve been humbled by what we’ve been able to achieve in the effort to set up this charity. We thank the owners of Deodar House for their trust in us, which speaks volumes about our integrity and ethics, as well as our expertise in achieving the successes we have with it. we look forward to the JELUKA4Good Children’s Leukemia Fund growing from strength to strength.’