Bling to big-name art: mysterious family holds high-end 'jumble sale'

When the former owners of Joburg's Deodar House immigrated, they left their home filled with millions of Rands worth of treasures. Now it's all going under the hammer for a good cause

04 February 2018 - 00:00 By Yolisa Mkele
Artworks like this sculpture by Angus Taylor, 'Sit en Staan' (Sit and Stand) will be on auction.
Artworks like this sculpture by Angus Taylor, 'Sit en Staan' (Sit and Stand) will be on auction.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

If you live in it long enough, a house becomes a home. A repository for a life's worth of accumulated debris that has sentimental value. Like that ugly ashtray you can't bring yourself to throw away despite your partner's protests. Or that incomplete art collection that stopped growing when you had to choose between it and sending your grubby-fingered children to school. What value would you attach to all those memories made tangible? What circumstance would induce you to leave it all behind? Well, in the case of Deodar House, the answers are, hopefully, R15- to R20-million, and charity.

Draped gracefully over a verdant patch of land in Illovo, Johannesburg, the house begins where a portion of the Wanderer's golf course ends and looks worthy of a visit by the Top Billing crew.

A bevy of large outdoor sculptures by the likes of William Kentridge and Angus Taylor mill around in the front yard and a gravel driveway cascades toward the front door.

The sellers have chosen to remain anonymous.

"The family that lived here moved abroad a while ago and decided to sell the house and its contents so that they can donate that to the charity that they are funding," said Jacqui Carney, an art specialist with Aspire Art, the auction house running the sale.

The five-bedroom house itself has already been sold for an undisclosed amount but Private Property.co.za has an old listing for it at R30-million.

A smaller version of William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx's 'Fire Walker' is one of the sculptures that'll be going under the hammer.
A smaller version of William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx's 'Fire Walker' is one of the sculptures that'll be going under the hammer.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The auction will be split into two parts. The live auction will comprise 104 lots featuring a smaller version of the original Gerhard Marx and William Kentridge Fire Walker sculpture that lives in downtown Johannesburg, as well as pieces by Dylan Lewis, Willem Boshoff and Edoardo Villa. The works of painters like Irma Stern, John Meyer and Robert Hodgins will also go on the block. There are French and Spanish antique pieces of furniture, as well as items by Paul Smith and Kartell that must go.

The rest of the contents will be sold in a no-reserve online auction that will run concurrently with the live auction. Online bidders will also get the chance to pop into the house to view the items they are bidding on during the auction.

"I think the pieces of art and the collection that they have put together, particularly the large outdoor pieces, are really the kind of works that would do well at an auction," Carney said. "They're not just some ordinary parts of a house that you can sell. They really need some specialist care to make sure they do the best that they can do."

According to James Sey, marketing manager at Aspire, the auction breaks the mould for how to offload a house and its contents in South Africa

"It is unusual in that there is a really wide range of stuff on offer. From high-end fine art to jewellery, designer furniture and wine," said Sey.

The general public can stop by and view the house and its contents from Thursday, February 8, and a number of the artists whose works are part of the auction will be giving talks. 

The live auction begins at 3pm on Sunday, February 11. For more information, visit aspireart.net


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