Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading auction house, achieved R195.9 million in sales of art for the period January to June 2019.
The March sale in Cape Town became the first-ever art auction in South Africa to earn more than R 100-million when it netted R 107-million.
Strauss & Co’s two benchmark live sales in Cape Town and Johannesburg together netted R 168 million – about 85% of the half-year turnover.
Irma Stern cemented her status as the most sought-after South African artist at auction, topping both the Cape Town and Johannesburg sales.
The top-performing Stern lot, Arab, a previously unrecorded portrait of an Omani nobleman from the court of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, sold for R20 484 000.
Anton van Wouw’s only known bronze maquette of statesman Paul Kruger, cast by the Roman foundry of Giovanni Nisini, sold for R10 469 600, a new world record.
Athi-Patra Ruga’s The Night of the Long Knives I, a colour photograph of a balloon-clad figure astride a zebra, sold for R1 707 000, becoming the first photograph to sell for more than R1-million at auction in South Africa.
The top-selling wine lot was a Jaubert Family Muscat d’Alexandrie 1800, South Africa’s oldest wine, which sold for R51 210.
Photo: Irma Stern is the leading South African artist in terms of value of artwork.