BNZ Art Collection: McCahon’s works sold for $3.7 million

Part of the BNZ art collection is auctioned off at Webb’s on Sunday.
Photo: RNZ / Felix Walton

Five works by New Zealand artist Colin McCahon sold for a combined $3.7 million at the BNZ Art Collection this afternoon – and concerns over their sale still linger.

McCahon’s Is there anything we can say, look, it’s new? sold for $2.1 million – it was estimated to be between $1.5 and $2.5 million. Other works by McCahon sold included O cry, Gray sky, red earth, Kauri and Small hill covered with bushes.

'Is there anything we can say, look, this is new?'  by Colin McCahon

“Is there anything you can say, look, this is new? by Colin McCahon
Photo: Supplied / Webb’s

Most of the paintings in this afternoon’s auction for the BNZ Art Collection sold above their upper estimate.

by Lois White Design sold at $115,000 above and Brent Wong’s city ​​limit sold for $175,000 more than the high estimate. The fugitive by Tony Fomison sold for $1,525,000 – his estimate was $600,000 to $700,000.

“The Fugitive” by Tony Fomison, 1982-83
Photo: Supplied / Webb’s

Among the BNZ’s collection of over 200 works of art were works by some of the country’s most important artists, Rita Angus, Gordon Walters, Toss Woollaston, Gretchen Albrecht, Milan Mrkusich, Don Binney and Ralph Hotere.

Webb’s auction manager Charles Ninow earlier said it was one of the biggest auctions in New Zealand history.

Tony Fomison's The Fugitive sold for $1,525,000 - its estimate was $600,000 to $700,000.

Tony Fomison’s The Fugitive (left) sold for $1,525,000 – its estimate was $600,000-$700,000.
Photo: RNZ / Felix Walton

However, there have been objections to auctioning off such important works of art to private buyers, with former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark saying BNZ should not sell for millions of dollars of art. works of art originally purchased when the bank was state owned.

Today, Auckland Art Gallery claimed BNZ dismissed concerns over the sale of significant New Zealand artwork.

Gallery director Kirsten Lacy said the artwork was purchased when BNZ was state-owned but transferred when it was privatized.

She thought they should be available for everyone to see.

“There is a particular care for a corporate collection like this, to consider the national interest, and the bank is not interested in having a dialogue about what that means in terms of cultural assets. of New Zealand.”

BNZ was not interested in talking to him about the collection, Lacy said, but the bank said it had no formal approach to the galleries.

BNZ chief business officer Cliff Joiner said the future of the BNZ art collection had been carefully considered by the board over a two-year period.

The society decided the best way to continue supporting the legacy of the art collection was to pass on the privilege of caring for the works to others and supporting communities through proceeds, he said. declared.

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