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Six-hour auction devoted to Irma Stern raises almost R37m

09 June 2022 - 12:24 By TImesLIVE
Detail from Irma Stern's 1941 painting 'Psychic: An Old Malay Woman', which sold for R7.5m at a Cape Town auction on June 8 2022.
Detail from Irma Stern's 1941 painting 'Psychic: An Old Malay Woman', which sold for R7.5m at a Cape Town auction on June 8 2022.
Image: Strauss & Co

The first auction devoted to SA artist Irma Stern raised R36.9m on Wednesday, 20% higher than the presale estimate.

All 140 works were sold, with a 1941 painting, Psychic: An Old Malay Woman, achieving the highest price of R7.5m.

Most of the works on offer were from the Irma Stern Trust which plans to use the proceeds to look after its core collection of thousands of works by the prolific artist.

The six-hour Strauss & Co auction in Cape Town attracted more than 750 online bidders and the auction house said applause greeted the sale of several lots.

Trust chairperson Frank Kilbourn said: “The outcome of this sale is a celebration of a great artist, Irma Stern, and a positive statement for the African art market.

“The diversity of works released by the Irma Stern Trust Collection made the sale attractive to the widest possible range of buyers. It is gratifying to note that a third of the works sold in this landmark sale went to new customers.”

Six of the top ten works sold for more than R1m. The sale featured paintings, drawings, prints, books and a rare ceramic piece, many depicting women, and encapsulated the arc of Stern’s output from 1920 to 1965, the year before her death.

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