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Prince Of Wales

53 Career Overall Rank

- 2016 Market Rank

  • Born: 1938 - 2002

  • Region: Darwin, NT
  • Language: Larakia

Prince of Wales has proven to be a most successful artist in the secondary market since he first appeared at auction in 2003. Of 60 works offered all but 12 have sold. A far higher percentage of these have sold for amounts above the high estimate compared to average results across all artists at auction.

Although he began painting as early as 1994 his most successful works were produced from 1998 onward. Thirteen have sold for more than $25,000, of which 3 were sold during 2012, 2 in 2013 and 3 in 2015. Nevertheless his results are skewed by the spectacular $156,000 paid for Body Marks 2001, at Sotheby’s in July 2007 (Lot 94), which was by far and away the artist’s most spectacular result to date.

All of the paintings that occupy his top ten results were created between 1998 and 2002, the year he passed away. Prince of Wales's paintings rose in value on both the primary and secondary markets immediately following his winning the Telstra general painting award in 2001, and his late career work, particularly those painted on a large scale, have commanded escalating prices since that time. The record price set in 2007 more than doubled the high estimate of $70,000 at Sotheby’s July sale (Lot 94) despite this having been the highest presale estimate ever placed on one of his works at sale.

Prince's second highest record ($61,000) was set at the Laverty auction at Bonham's  in 2013. His third  was far more conservative for a work measuring 223 x 132 cm.  Body Marks 1999 sold in 2011 at Deutscher and Hackett's June sale (Lot 28). It was an version in revers of the work that won him the general painting prize in the 2001 Telstra Award. White dots jump out against a dark blue background. The colours are deep, and subtle and it is only by looking closer into the depth of the blue that black dots, layered on the background, become apparent. There is a sense of unity and harmony in both paintings, which is a hallmark of the best of this artist’s works.

2008 was not a good year for the artist at auction with two works carrying estimates of $20,000-30,000 in Sotheby’s October sale failing to attract buyers (Lots 120 and 121). Of three paintings on offer that year only the small 55 x 55 cm. Body Marks 1999 sold in its estimated mid range at Joel Fine Art (Lot 200) and with such small numbers presented at auction this resulted in his clearance rate dropping from 91% to 84% and his being one of only a tiny handful of artists whose AAMI dropped during the year. It resulted in his falling from 42nd to 46th ranked artist in the history of the movement. 2009, while not a return to glory, produced the one reasonable offer and sale of Body Marks 1999 for $18,000 measuring 138 x 102.5 cm. Similarly the resale of Body Marks 1999 at Deutscher and Hackett in 2010 (Lot 16) for $21,600, brought one top ten sale in an otherwise uneventful year. In 2012 seven of the eight works on offer sold with three paintings entering his tip ten results at 3rd 6th and 7th places in his career standings. This saw his career success rate rise to 88% during a year in which he was the 14th most successful artist.

2015 was his best year for some time. Three works entered his top ten results at 7th, 8th and 9th. There is no doubt that major paintings by this artist, whose career was cut short just as his success had ignited intense interest in his art, will increasingly attract interest from informed collectors, with consequent growing prices. His record-breaking work was by far the largest of his paintings ever presented for sale and this can be seen as part of a trend by serious collectors to pay a premium for important works that are strictly limited in availability. Works by Prince of Wales fit perfectly into the contemporary aesthetic despite their deep cultural significance. Expect them to escalate in value steadily thereby rewarding their collectors both visually and financially.  

Prince Of Wales - Body Marks 2002

Body Marks 2002
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 25/07/2005 for $27,525.00
Size: 137.5 x 81 cm

Prince Of Wales - Body Marks 1999

Body Marks 1999
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 25/07/2005 for $12,000.00
Size: 127 x 74 cm

Prince Of Wales - Body Marks 2000

Body Marks 2000
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 26/07/2004 for $38,100.00
Size: 180.5 x 122 cm

Born c.1938 at Belyuen (Dellisaville), a small community on the far side of Darwin Harbour, Midpul, more familiarly known as Prince of Wales, was a custodian and leader of Larakia ceremonies and dances, a leading didgeridoo player, and practiced art as ceremonial body painting for much of his life. His father, Imabul, was also known as King George and this, perhaps as much as the fact that Midpul danced for Queen Elizabeth during a royal trip to Australia in the 1960's, resulted in his familiar ‘English’ name. ‘Prince’ grew up with his mother’s people, the Wadgigiyn, on the Cox Peninsula across the harbour from Darwin, and spent much of his adult life living with other Dangalaba clan members at the beach camp at Cullen (Kahlin) Bay, now an expensive marina development.

Despite suffering a stroke prior to gaining great recognition as an artist, he continued his lifelong practice and passion for painting and became recognized as the first contemporary Aboriginal artist from the Larakia region. His work is a unique rendering on to canvas of the traditional body designs used in Danggalaba ceremonies.

The respect afforded to Midpul by younger members of the Danggalaba tribe was such that, despite the specific sacred cultural content of his art, no challenge was mounted when he began to produce his canvasses. As the last ‘full’ elder of the tribe, he spoke about his responsibility to reveal this sacred visual element of his culture to the mainstream. Given the hesitation from the earliest days of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement to disclose sacred symbols to the public, his authority may have derived from the fact that there were simply no remaining elders alive to challenge him. Regardless, when his paintings - mostly entitled ‘Body Marks’ – came to public prominence in 2001, his work gained an immediate reputation as the up and coming art de jour of modern minimalism. It was the second year that ‘Prince’ had won the Telstra Aboriginal Art award in the General Painting Category (his previous success, in 1996, came and went with far less attention). 

Prince of Wales, had works included in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award five times, held his first solo exhibition at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in 1997, and went on to stage another four at the Karen Brown Gallery in Darwin and the Hogarth Gallery in Sydney. His death came at a time when his artistic career was only really beginning to flourish and commercial interest had begun translating into real sales. It is not difficult to see why his paintings were so quickly taken up by the art buying public, once they did come into prominence. The bold colours, broad dots and domino-like lines fit a very contemporary aesthetic.

 Unfortunately this strong commercial interest only manifested at the end of his life and so much of his creative output was on a small scale, executed on cardboard scraps, paper and found objects. The artistic recognition that came with the Telstra Aboriginal Art award and a realisation of the commercial value of his work saw ‘Prince’ paint large-scale canvases only toward the end of his career.  At this time his position as ‘the last ‘full-blooded’ Larakia man’ was a heritage that he strongly identified with, although his relationship to the title was ambivalent and, at times, a heavy burden. He died on the 27th December 2002 having created a significant art legacy and laying the foundations for the emergence of a contemporary Larakia Art Movement. His work was exhibited posthumously in 2003, in the group exhibition  ‘Emerge’ at the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin.   

Profile References

Brown, K. ?. Prince of Wales. Darwin. Karen Brown Gallery.
Watson, Ken, Jones, Jonathan & Perkins, Hetti . 2004. Tradition today : Indigenous Art in Australia. Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Toohey, Paul. 2003. Larakia Man made Unique Art out of Tribal Ceremonies. Australia. The Australian 11.
Wells, E (ed). ?. Saltwater People : Larrakia Stories from Around Darwin. Darwin. Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.

Prince Of Wales - Body Marks 1999

Body Marks 1999
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 24/07/2007 for $14,400.00
Size: 123 x 86 cm

Prince Of Wales - Body Marks 1998

Body Marks 1998
Sold by Bonhams & Goodman, Melbourne on 19/11/2007 for $19,200.00
Size: 101 x 101 cm

Prince Of Wales - Untitled Bodymarks

Untitled Bodymarks
Sold by Sotheby's Australia, Sydney on 20/10/2008 for $0.00
Size: 122.5 x 90 cm

Sites

Larakia

Subjects

Body Paint Designs, Danggalaba Ceremony

Medium

Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen and Canvas, Works on Paper

Regional Map

Note: This map is a representation and not accurate. Some sites are sacred and therefore not shown.

Market Performance

Career Totals

AIAM100 Rank
53
AIAM100 Rating
3.2412
Sold/Offered
48/61
Clearance Rate
79%
Average Price
$19,098
Total Price
$916,719
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.1249 0.5987 0.5406 0.3533 1.0363 0.0699 0.1342 0.2287 0.7446 0.9797 0.5462 0.1386 0.9024 0.0000
0/0 0/0 0/0 2/2 6/6 5/6 2/2 5/6 1/3 1/1 2/4 6/9 7/8 3/3 1/2 7/8 0/1
$0 $0 $0 $3,900 $9,958 $11,688 $31,200 $42,960 $4,880 $18,000 $13,080 $15,400 $19,589 $33,143 $19,200 $16,619 $0
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 - 2016

Top 10 Artworks Sold at Auction

1

Body Marks, 2001

sale price: $156,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 94 date: 24/07/2007
146 x 205 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
2

Body Marks, 2000

sale price: $61,000.00
auction: Bonhams, Sydney  lot: 41 date: 24/03/2013
187 x 146 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
3

Body Marks, 1999

sale price: $57,600.00
auction: Deutscher and Hackett , Melbourne  lot: 28 date: 18/05/2011
223 x 132 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
4

Body Marks (2001)

sale price: $45,600.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia, Melbourne  lot: 26 date: 05/06/2012
161.5 x 125 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
5

Body Marks 2001

sale price: $42,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 46 date: 31/10/2006
161.5 x 125 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
6

Body Marks 2000

sale price: $38,100.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 115 date: 26/07/2004
180.5 x 122 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
7

Body Marks, 2002

sale price: $34,160.00
auction: Deutscher and Hackett , Sydney  lot: 33 date: 26/08/2015
168.5 x 118 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
8

Body Marks (2002)

sale price: $32,400.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia, Sydney  lot: 9 date: 15/10/2012
137 x 81.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
9

Body Marks, 2000

sale price: $31,200.00
auction: Deutscher and Hackett , Sydney  lot: 121 date: 08/03/2015
120 x 91 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
10

Body Marks, 1999

sale price: $30,500.00
auction: Bonhams, Sydney  lot: 89 date: 24/03/2013
133 x 97 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Available Artworks

Sorry There are currently no artworks available for this artist.