Sale of Adrian Burr, Peter Tatham art collection could fetch $10m, set new records in NZ

Items in the art, sculpture, furniture, artefacts and decorative collection of the late Adrian Burr and Peter Tatham will be auctioned this weekend in Auckland where they could fetch $10 million.

Ben Plumbly, director of art at auction house Art and Object in Newton, said the range and quality of items selling on Saturday and Sunday could break a number of New Zealand records.

“It’s $7m, $8m, $10m. It’s one of those sorts of collections that come along every 10 years. In 2016, we sold the collection of Tim and Sherrah Francis. That set the highest price in New Zealand at $7.2m and $1.6m for a Colin McCahon which has not been exceeded since.

“There’s a chance that this collection could break those records,” Plumbly said today.

Two works could boost figures considerably, he predicted.

“This could be a transformative moment for the New Zealand art market,” he said.

McCahon’s St Matthew: Lightening and Michael Parekōwhai’s A peak in Darien could comprise 40 per cent of the finished sale price of the entire collection he said.

The 2.6m x 2.1m McCahon is estimated to be worth $1.6m to $2.4m. Burr and Tatham bought it in 1999 from Peter McLeavey Gallery through John Gow of Gow Langsford Gallery, with the assistance of former Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Parekōwhai’s estimated price is $900,000 to $1.4m which Plumbly said could also set a record sale price of an artwork by a living New Zealand artist. That work was part of his Venice Biennale installation and is cast bronze and stainless steel in two parts. Burr and Tatham bought it from the Michael Lett Gallery in Auckland in 2010.

“The previous price record for a living artist is around $300,000 but we could triple or even quadruple that on the weekend. Given he’s mid-career, the sale prices could be unprecedented for the New Zealand market,” Plumbly said of the Parekōwhai work.

Other significant artists featuring in the sale of around 310 items are Francis Hodgkins, Max Gimblett, Tony Fomison, Toss Woollaston, Don Binney, Molly MacAlister, Michael Smither, Dame Ngaio Marsh, Shane Cotton, Bill Hammond, Stephen Bambury and Dick Frizzell.

“There’s art but also decorative items, home furniture, Māori artefacts, applied arts and antiques,” Plumbly said of the range of items for sale.

A Bentley car, ceramics, lamps, chairs, dressers, serving tables, chests, carved Māori art objects including tekoteko, wall hangings are in Sunday’s auction.

The auction house is selling the collection in two volumes: the most significant artworks on Saturday when 110 items are up, then around 200 further pieces on Sunday.

“Most of the high-value artworks are being sold on Saturday,” Plumbly said.

The auction house says: “The collection was renowned as one of this country’s greatest by the philanthropists who assembled works that encompassed the finest quality New Zealand and international art from the 20th and 21st centuries.

“Adrian and Peter were founding benefactors of the ASB Waterfront Theatre and their support of the Arts Foundation is recognised with a Laureate Award in their names. They were long-term patrons of Auckland Art Gallery and members of the chairman’s council group of major foundation donors that helped fund the gallery re-build which opened in 2009,” the auction house said.

Their generosity extended beyond the arts to support for environmental issues, sport and mental health, it said.

“Intensely private yet fiercely passionate, their collection has been seen by very few and consists of many of the finest examples held outside of museums by many of our most distinguished artists, including Frances Hodgkins, Bill Hammond, Colin McCahon, Paul Dibble, Séraphine Pick, Shane Cotton, Ans Westra, Michael Parekōwhai, Chris Charteris, Russell Clark, Callum Innes, Dick Frizzell, Max Gimblett, Ngaio Marsh and many, many more,” it said.

Many of the works were in their Herne Bay residence.

Burr was a property investor, a director of Viaduct Harbour Holdings which bought 35ha of downtown Auckland waterfront land and now leases it to dozens of businesses.

He was the founding director of Auckland’s School for Performing and Creative Arts and was on the board of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

He first came to prominence in the 1980s with Chase Corporation and, like former Chase boss Colin Reynolds, stayed in the business during the 1990s when he bought extensive real estate holdings.

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