Tuesday, November 28, 2017


In the art world, a 'sleeper' describes an artwork whose real value has been missed.

I've certainly read news stories about collectors picking up bargains at auction that turn out to be worth millions.

I don't think I'll ever have that kind of luck.

But I do feel incredibly lucky tonight to have picked up a painting by an artist who I love, at a fraction of the painting's true value.

The story of my association with the painting goes back several years. I first saw it in my friend's gallery. It was the second most expensive work in the exhibition. And there was no way I could have justified forking out the asking price (which was equivalent to the cost of a small car). It didn't matter anyway. The painting was sold.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the same painting turned up in an online auction catalogue with a sales estimate a mere fraction of the original sale price. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I spoke to my gallerist friend and she was just as surprised as I was. This was a very important painting by a very important indigenous artist, whose works are held in major institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Australia.

I went to the auction tonight. I was very nervous but luck was on my side. I got it for a steal.

I'm stoked.


Anonymous said...

I suppose while the artist originally made good money from the sale, I think their work has now being devalued by you being able to buy the work cheaply. But never mind, not to spoil your pleasure with a bargain for something you really like.

Adaptive Radiation said...

The value of aboriginal art reached its peak some years ago so it's been interesting seeing a lot of art investors getting rid of their collections to cut their losses, which is great for obsessive collectors like me ;-)

The artist in question passed away some years ago, but you are right, for most earlier works, the artists don't really benefit from any increases in the value of their artworks. All that changed a few years ago when the Government introduced the 'resale royal' to ensure that this 'injustice' is remedied and that artists can now benefit from the profits arising from the subsequent (higher) sale of their artworks (fortunately they don't have to pay if their work depreciates in value!). This only applies to art that was produced after the new law came into effect.

Incidentally, it's not an uncommon practise for people to buy 'under valued' works at auction and then donate those works to public institutions under the cultural gifts program at the actual (higher) value and receive a bumper tax break.

I don't think I can part with mine though.