Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond just sold part of his art collection for $1.5 million

John Brack’s Pantomime 1988-1994, owned by John Symond and sold for $500,000 © Helen Brack, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond attempted to offload 14 works from his art collection last night via Sotheby’s auction in Sydney, but not everything went to plan with half the works failing to attract a buyer.

A total of 82 works by Australian and international artists went under the hammer, and the prices paid suggest the local market is still healthy, with 67.07% sold by volume for a total of $8,280,750 including buyer’s premium (BP). Six lots exceeded $500,000 and another six $200,000, with four new auction records set.

Of the 14 works offered by Symond, only half sold, raising a total of $1.921 million (inc. BP)

One observer suggested the size of some of the works, which Symond housed in his massive Point Piper property, Wingadal, may have deterred buyers.

They included a three-metre-wide tapestry, Ned Kelly: Siege and Burning at Glenrowan, by Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman’s 6m-long tetraptych, Evening at Ettalong Beach, and Tim Storrier’s 2.44m-wide Flora’s Lament, which Symond bought when it was first exhibited in 2004.

But two smaller works by Jeffrey Smart failed to find buyers, along with a David Boyd. The highest value work was John Brack’s Pantomime 1988-1994, with a hammer price of $500,000 ($610,000 inc. BP) on an estimate of $500,000- $700,000.

Howard Arkley’s House and Native Tree 1996, sold for $207,400 on an estimate of $80,000‐$120,000, setting a new record for a work on paper by the late artist.

Among the works up for sale, Joel Elenberg’s Mask A (1979) set a new auction record for an Australian sculpture, going for $634,400 (inc. BP) on an estimate of $200,000‐$300,000.

Garry Shead’s The Bearers (Queen of Suburbia) 1997 set a new record for the artist at $439,200 (inc. BP) on an estimate of $350,000‐$450,000.

Wendy Whiteley bought back a small part of the farm, paying $829,500 (inc. BP) on an estimate of $350,000‐$550,000 for her late husband’s work, Nude Beside the Basin 1963.

She bought it on behalf of the Brett Whiteley Studio. It was the first time the painting appeared on the market since its sale 55 years ago. Whiteley’s Summer I 1961 was also acquired by the Brett Whiteley Studio for $61,000 (estimate $28,000‐#38,000).

Among the lots that failed to find buyers were three Jeffrey Smart oils, works by Sidney Nolan, Robert Dickerson, Arthur Boyd and Fred Williams.