A Defining Moment: The 22nd Report

Before this realisation, we were aware of CITES (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) and like every other auctioneer in the country and indeed, globally, we often sought formal approval for both the sale and potential exportation of ivory and horn. We assumed, wrongly, that CITES protected the elephant and rhinoceros species and that our industry, with this compliance, adequately protected these animals from the illegal trade in their tusks and horns. In reality, and as I have learnt over the last two years, current conventions, legislation and industry regulation have almost completely failed in stemming the flood of recently poached ivory and horn from entering the global art and antiques marketplace.
When we introduced the policy, industry reaction was regrettably predictable; we were labelled “blatant opportunists” by one auctioneer and while others were somewhat supportive of our sentiment, to date none have come on board in any meaningful way or embraced our policy.
This is why I applaud Bonhams’ decision last week to cancel their forthcoming auction of antique Rhinoceros horn carvings in Hong Kong following increasing pressure from conservation groups. It was a courageous decision and an important step forward towards a complete ban in the trade of these materials.
Their decision inspired Sotheby’s International to follow suit with the announcement a day later that they too would cease trade in Rhino horn.
The decision now of these two international auction houses to follow the path of Christie’s finally acknowledges at the highest levels of the global auction market the undeniable part we auctioneers play in the value chain and ultimate poaching of these animals, if we are to continue to trade in these materials.
I hope that we will, one day very soon, look back on these recent announcements as defining moments in history; establishing a clear precedent that such materials should not and must not be traded.
The next, equally important step, and one which forms part of our policy, is the international cessation of trade in elephant ivory.
John Albrecht
Managing Director

The Magical Studio of Mirka Mora

I joked with William Mora that the walkways worked like a mystery maze, weaving through her apartment-studio, and were so tight that it would make it almost impossible for her to fall. William agreed, with his trademark smile. And this was the way that Mirka loved to live and create. Inspiration was everywhere, and where it wasn’t; well, she created it. The windows in her shower were painted with colourful signature geometric motifs and the sliding doors to her studio were not left as mere glass; they too were decorated with her signature mythical figures, flowers and plants.

Within the studio were all of the memories and possessions that captured her and that acquired a permanency within her surrounds, her world. There were curious and long-lost paintings by artists of the post-war Melbourne art period; many of which were gifted to her and Georges. There were dolls, toy animals and child-like creations of all shapes and sizes. Every space, however tiny, was filled. Mirka collected inspiration in every size and every shape and with a playfulness that I dare say was unique.

Mirka not only embraced the cultural scene of Melbourne, she was also instrumental in creating it, and in creating a legacy that we all now enjoy. Her magic can be seen everywhere throughout this city; at Tolarno’s, where you can marvel at the joyous decoration of the restaurant walls, at Heide Museum of Modern Art, which of course was so much part of Mirka’s life and where you can now enjoy a wonderful documentary exhibition of her drawings and dolls, and of course, in the Flinders Street Train Station Mural. As I write this, and contemplate her extraordinary influence, I realise that Mirka’s art and vision are perhaps in more parts of our city than any other artist. Her gregarious embrace of Melbourne and its affection for her that lasted a lifetime and will, I feel, never end.

The contents of Mirka’s studio have now been meticulously catalogued and packed away, prior to display at Leonard Joel in the late summer of 2019, and the auction on 3 March. So, while the living studio has now passed and the artist, sadly no longer walks its maze of naturally formed corridors. The magic will, I hope, be recreated and once again come to life in our exhibition to reflect the creativity, humour and humanity that was Mirka Mora.

John Albrecht
Managing Director & Head of Private Collections

Auction | Sunday 3 March, 12pm
333 Malvern Road, South Yarra VIC 3141

One Year On

At about this time one year ago “the penny dropped” for me as an auctioneer and I could no longer deny that auctioneers who dealt in ivory were not significantly contributing to maintaining value in this material and consequently, the ongoing slaughter of endangered species.


1909 Ashes Urn sells for $80,600 at Leonard Joel

The 1909 Ashes Urn which was presented to Australia’s Cricket Captain Monty Noble on his team’s victory over England, sold for $80,600 at Leonard Joel today.

Max Williamson, Head of Sporting Memorabilia at Leonard Joel said, ‘The Ashes Urn is the pinnacle for any Cricketing Memorabilia collector and this particular urn, being one of only three we know of still in private hands, is the most important piece of Cricketing Memorabilia to appear on the market for many, many years.’

‘We were honoured to be entrusted with such an important piece of cricketing history by the Noble family, and we are thrilled with the result.’

Although it stands at only approximately 10cm high, the Ashes Urn has, since its inception, been the most fiercely contested trophy in Test cricket, and represents the enduring competition between Australia and England.

The ‘Ashes’ originates from the 1882 Test series when Australia played and defeated England – the first defeat for England on home soil – and journalist Reginald Brooks published his now famous obituary in The Sporting Times (illustrated below), mourning the ‘death’ of ‘English Cricket and stating the ‘Ashes’ would be taken to Australia.

Later that year Ivo Bligh captained England’s team on their tour to Australia, and the British media dubbed the tour a quest to regain ‘The Ashes’.

England won the Test series 2-1 and a group of Melbourne ladies, including his future wife, Florence Morphy and her companion, Lady Clarke, presented Bligh with a small urn inside a velvet bag, said to contain ‘The Ashes’.

Over the years, several urns were created to symbolise the mythical ‘Ashes’ and held aloft by victorious teams (further details below). However, the Monty Noble urn, which was presented to him by Ivo Bligh’s wife, Lady Darnley, is one of only three known remaining urns in private hands (two of which are on loan to Melbourne Cricket Club Museum).

Elsewhere in the auction, a gold engraved Vesta case from The Monty Noble Collection sold for $3,720 and Dennis Lillee’s Baggy Green for $12,400.

For media enquiries contact: nicole.kenning@leonardjoel.com.au | +61 424 186 377

Now Hiring Casual Staff: Furniture Handlers, Art Installers & Jewellery Assistants

INTERIORS-&-JEWELLERYsmallerLeonard Joel is seeking positive, motivated and physically fit individuals to  assist with the preparation of our forthcoming antique and art auctions on a casual basis.

The ideal applicants will have the following qualities:

  • Ability to work efficiently within the Art Classic Furniture and Objects and Jewellery teams and collaboratively with other Leonard Joel specialists and staff to assist in the preparation of Leonard Joel’s regular series of specialist auctions throughout the year
  • Good level of physical fitness and ability to learn safe handling practices for moving, assembling and merchandising furniture and fine art as part of the specialist auction cycle – an interest in the display and presentation of fine art and furniture would be an advantage
  • Flexible availability, including occasional evenings and weekends

Leonard Joel are delighted to offer the opportunity to work in this dynamic, fast paced environment, which will offer the right candidates a strong grounding in the antique auction industry, as well the opportunity to be part of a friendly and enthusiastic team.

Please send your CV and cover letter to:

Furniture Handlers | Chiara Curcio | chiara.curcio@leonardjoel.com.au

Art Installers | Daizi Zheng | daizi.zheng@leonardjoel.com.au

Jewellery Assistants | Kerry Dobson | kerry.dobson@leonardjoel.com.au

Leonard Joel engaged to manage the International Decorative Arts Collection of the Late J.O. Fairfax AC

Leonard Joel is honoured to announce its appointment by the executors to manage this historic single-owner collection.

Some 600+ items representing James Fairfax’s collecting passions and travels will be offered in a full colour catalogue and auction event in Sydney in early September 2017.

The catalogue will be titled “The Philanthropist and Connoisseur – The Decorative Arts Collection of the Late J.O. Fairfax” and will present superb antique furniture, Asian artefacts, textiles, porcelain, silver and photography, representing James Fairfax’s highly considered yet passionate approach to the decorative arts. Detailed exhibition history and impeccable documentary provenance come with many of the pieces, only adding to the stature and importance of the collection.

The auction will showcase some of the finest Chinese textiles and jades, Japanese lacquer and English and European furniture ever to come on to the Australian market place.

And the unpretentious yet grand collecting methodology behind the collection means that estimates will range from the low thousands through to exceptional single examples that are expected to realise tens of thousands of dollars.

Interest is expected to be both local and international and the collection is conservatively estimated to realise in excess of $1,000,000 and proceeds from this auction will be invested in a fund, The James Fairfax Foundation, which will provide income to help support charities that Mr Fairfax has supported during his life, including The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, The Children’s Medical Research Foundation and WWF.

Robert Williams, National Head of Single-owner auctions for Leonard Joel:

“Numerous visits to Retford Park, the home of this most personal collection and conversations with Mr Fairfax’s nearest and dearest, have made researching and understanding this collection for me a deeply satisfying exercise and one I wish to respect in every facet of its management. As a UK-trained specialist it will be delightful to be offering for sale so many pieces of international calibre and flavour. European, English, Chinese and Japanese decorative arts are all strongly represented and I simply can’t wait to view the collection with the people of Sydney and the world.”

John Albrecht, Managing Director of Leonard Joel:

“So much has been written about the Fairfax family and story that for me it is as though I have been invited inside a discreet aspect of Australian social history. My first drive to Retford Park, the beautiful English-inspired gardens and the Victorian Italianate mansion that greeted me belied the truly diverse, international and complex nature of James Fairfax’s collecting style. As the appointed auctioneer it is my privilege to be managing this collection for the estate and what I feel most now is that I am very lucky indeed to be part of what is essentially the “collecting” chapter of the biography of this great Australian.”

Viewing | Saturday 26 – Wednesday 30 August, 11am-6pm & Thursday 31 August, by appointment.
Leonard Joel Sydney, 39 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
Auction: Thursday 31 August at 6.30pm & Friday 1 September at 11am
The Cell Block Theatre, National Art School, Forbes Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Contact: Nicole Kenning | 03 8825 5620 | 0424 186 377 | nicole.kenning@leonardjoel.com.au