Out of a total of 135 works by 42 artists 82% sold making a total of £2.6m (R28.5m) achieved by this sale, the seventh South African Art Sale in five years at Bonhams. Works by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto and Maggie Laubser all beat their pre sale estimates.
The sale’s catalogue cover lot by Gerard Sekoto, Market Street Scene, Cape Town, sold for £192,000 (R2.1m)against an estimate of £120,000 to £180,000. And a Maggie Laubser, Woman Wearing a Red Doek, estimated at £20,000 to £30,000 sold for £50,400 (R554,000).
Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams commented after the sale: “Once again we have been delighted by the response from buyers. You would not have known in the saleroom today that we are cautiously emerging from the worst recession in 80 years. The mood was buoyant, the bidding brisk and the prices excellent. After five years of selling South African art I feel that this is not a blip or a fashion but the start of a long march to real international recognition and appreciation of this vibrant art from the tip of Africa.”
Two potentially controversial items in the auction sold privately before the auction, a South African flag that had been flown by helicopter at Mandela presidential inauguration and a signed copy of the Kliptown ANC Freedom Charter. The former was bought by a private benefactor and the latter in a deal negotiated by Bonhams and the Lilliesleaf Foundation in South Africa.
ANC Freedom Charter Saved for the Nation
A copy of the ANC Kliptown Freedom Charter of 1955 which was due to sell at Bonhams South African Sale on March 24th in London has been saved for the nation in a deal negotiated by Bonhams and the Liliesleaf Trust prior to auction. It was bought for the South African State with funds provided by The Mantis Group, Lonmin PLC and Lord Renwick.
Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams, said: “This is the happiest possible outcome for the Freedom Charter. We are delighted to have been able to arrange a deal with this South African organization which was determined to see the Charter return to where it best belongs.”
The vendor of the ANC Charter, Mr Leon Levy, stated: “This was always my hope, that the Charter would be returned to the State and I am delighted that this has now been achieved.”
Nelson Mandela recalled in his autobiography: “The Freedom Charter captured the hopes and dreams of the people and acted as a blueprint for the liberation struggle and the future of the nation.”
Flag which Flew at Mandela’s Inauguration Flies Home
The South African flag which was due to be auctioned on 24th March in the UK has been saved for the nation in an agreement negotiated by Bonhams in London. The flag signed by the three South African presidents – Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and F. W. de Klerk was flown at the historic presidential inauguration on 10th May 1994.
A London based South African businessman and philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous has offered to buy the flag for an undisclosed amount in a sale brokered by Bonhams on the understanding that it would be returned to South Africa and handed over to the South African Government.