Art Auction For Charles Blackman Trebles Expectations: Will Pay For Artists Care For 'Rest Of His Life'

Painter Charles Blackman. Photo Patrick Riviere/Getty

A fundraising art auction for Charles Blackman, one of Australia’s greatest living artists, has raised $900,000, three times more than expectations.

Blackman, 85, has Korsakoff’s syndrome, a form of dementia caused by alcoholism, and requires 24-hour care at his rented Sydney home.

On Tuesday, Melbourne’s Mossgreen gallery sold the last 400 works Blackman owned, hoping to raise $300,000, but Mossgreen managing director Paul Sumner said the response was so overwhelming from bidders that the artist would now have his healthcare costs covered for the rest of his life.

“It was a real show of support for Charles. You couldn’t move in the room, it was absolutely packed and we also had 450 online bidders, which is highly unusual,” Mr Sumner said.

“There was so much community support and emotional support for him. I suppose in moments like that, valuations go out the window.”

While the price estimates on many of the works were around the $1000 mark, buyers routinely paid more than three times that figure. The top price paid was for a tapestry with an estimated price of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $75,000.

“The money raised is so much more than expected and now Charles will be comfortable for the rest of his life. His family is very relieved and happy,” Mr Sumner said.

This 1969 Charles Blackman lithograph, titled White cat’s garden, had an estimate of $800. It sold for $6,710 to help pay for the artist’s healthcare. Image courtesy of the artist and Mossgreen.

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