Record Prices for Contemporary Australian Art Buoys Market

On Sunday August 26th one of the largest single-owner dispersals of contemporary art was undertaken at Leonard Joel’s South Yarra rooms and was supported by a record number of attendees. Emanating from the Australian Art Investment Trust, now under a deed of administration, more than 300 works representing some of Australia’s most prolific artists and sculptors were offered at public auction. Given the current subdued market the auction was eagerly anticipated as a barometer for the health and direction of the market for both collectors and sellers alike. For many of these artists the differential between their gallery prices and their market prices was extreme so artists and owners of these artists’ work were hoping for strong results.


The auction did not disappoint with no less than 12 record auction prices – the highest price for the auction was for lot 336, Geoff Dyer’s striking work Untitled (Bushfire Series) II , which realised $14,640 IBP (illustrated). Other Australian auction records were set for: Ben Shearer, Graham Fransella (for graphics and works on paper), Idris Murphy, Ian Grant, Emma Camden (glass), Joanna Logue, Peter Blizzard (sculpture), Peter D Cole (painting), Jorg Schmeisser (prints), Neil Taylor and Ben Hall. One of the more extraordinary results was for lot 163 by an artist not yet identified that after lengthy bidding realised $4,392 IBP against an estimate of $200 – $400. The sale realised $500,200 IBP,  97% by lot and a staggering 205 % by value.

John Albrecht, Head of Corporate & Private Collections, commented: “Before the auction we received significant public pressure about our necessarily conservative pricing but in reality we were guided by existing auction results – these results tied our hands to ensure we were sensibly pricing.

Many artists would have preferred the auction not to go ahead for fear of auction results but I hope that now they will see the benefit of building an auction profile. We achieved very healthy results for artists that will now only reassure collectors that their works are becoming more stable investments in a clearly challenging market. Today we notched up no less than twelve Australian auction records over the $2,000 mark and many more under that – I’m happy for the artists and I’m happy for collectors and pleased by the record number of new faces we saw at the auction today.”

The Leonard Joel art department is now inviting single-owner art collections for its forthcoming season of catalogue auctions. For confidential and complimentary market valuations please contact:

John Albrecht
Head of Art
Tel: (03) 8825 5608
Email: John Albrecht

Nicole Salvo
Art Specialist
Tel: (03) 8825 5624
Email:Nicole Salvo