Adrian Newstead OAM

Adrian Earths Creations

Adrian Newstead and Billy Benn

The Dealer is the Devil - Book Cover

Founding Director

Adrian Newstead OAM established Cooee Aboriginal art Gallery in 1981. A former President of the Indigenous Art Trade Association and Director of Aboriginal Tourism Australia he became the Head of Aboriginal Art for Lawson~Menzies in 2003, and Managing Director of Menzies Art Brands until 2008. An Aboriginal art consultant, dealer, and art commentator, based in Bondi, NSW, he has more that 30 years experience working in Aboriginal and Australian Contemporary art.



1981-2016       Founding Director Cooee Art

1990-1996       President of the Paddington-Darlinghurst Chamber of Commerce

1991-1996       Chairman Woollahra Council Paddington Gateway Working Party 

1992-1996       Founding Member Austrade Visual Art Export Panel

1996-2016       Approved Government Valuer Cultural Gifts Program

1996-2010       Foundation member of the Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association (Art.Trade)

1998-2004       Board Member Art.Trade, National President 1998-2000, 2001-2002

2003-2007       Head Aboriginal Art Department, Lawson Menzies auction house

2004-2005       Board Member – Aboriginal Tourism Australia

2007-2008       Managing Director Deutscher Menzies, Menzies Art Brands

2009-2016       Member Art Consulting Association of Australia

2014                Published, The Dealer is the Devil- an insider’s history of the Aboriginal art trade

2010-2016       Executive Member Art Consulting Association of Australia, President 2011-2015

2016               Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for Service to the museum and galleries Sector, particularly through the promotion of

                       Indigenous arts.


Adrian Newstead began working with Aboriginal communities in 1981 when Coo-ee Emporium (founded with Louise Ferrier) held the first exhibition for Tiwi Design of Bathurst Island. By 1985, when prominent Aboriginal identity Joe Croft became a partner in the business, Aboriginal art had become its primary interest. The company organised more than 100 exhibitions of Aboriginal art in Australia and overseas during the following decade.

As a prominent retailer in Sydney's Paddington precinct through the 1980s and 1990s, Adrian acted as the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the joint working party between Woollahra and South Sydney Councils for more than a decade. In that role he steered the rezoning and streetscape refurbishments of this lively tourism precinct through both councils.


Aboriginal Art

Adrian initiated the Best in Sydney project and consortium within the Crafts Council of Australia and was a founding member of Austrade’s Visual Arts Export Panel in the early 1990s. He went on to be the prime mover behind the establishment of the powerful Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association  (now renamed the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia) by bringing together gallery owners from across Australia to conferences at the Queensland Art Gallery, and Alice Springs. This role required considerable industry-wide consultation and the management of deep-seated enmities within the trade; the establishment of an industry code of ethics and business practice; and the development of its constitution. While still running a profitable gallery he championed this vital industry development and, as its National President, steered it through its difficult formative years. The Association, now two decades old, plays a vital role in high-level industry discussions and planning; leads delegations to the federal minister for the Arts; and presents major submissions to enquiries and arts development strategies from the commercial sector of the industry. In addition Adrian served for many years on the board of Aboriginal Tourism Australia and currently acts as a trustee and board member of the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation established from proceeds of art sales for the benefit of Indigenous health and education projects in Northern and Central Australia. Amongst the many areas of support it addresses are youth suicide, mental health and enterprise initiatives. 

Well known for his lengthy contribution to the development of Aboriginal artists and their work, Adrian was the first art dealer to organise art exhibitions by the Tiwi people of Bathurst and Melville Islands, the printmakers of the Western Torres Strait Islands, the Spinifex people of the Great Victoria Desert, and urban Aboriginal art. He acted as the first publisher of Aboriginal fine art prints and initiated metal work amongst indigenous artists including large scale commissioned public sculptures. During the period 1990-1994 Adrian curated and toured the largest exhibition of Indigenous limited edition prints ever assembled throughout the United States of America and Australia. 

Over his time as a gallery manager and dealer Adrian has worked with, supported, and represented, many of the great early masters of Aboriginal art, presenting their art in his Sydney gallery and visiting them in the bush to encourage and help develop their work. These artists included Rover Thomas, Abie Jangala, Lorna Fencer, Dennis Nona, David Malangi and many others.


Secondary Art Market Experience

In 2003, Adrian Newstead became the Head of Aboriginal Art for Lawson~Menzies part of the 100% Australian owned multimillion dollar Menzies Art Auction Group. In this role he coordinated two sales of Aboriginal fine art each year from 2004 to 2007 building their Aboriginal art sales from $1M to $9.1M annually. During 2006 with total sales exceeding $8M Lawson~Menizes and Coo-ee Gallery outsold Sotheby's and placed more Aboriginal art than anyone else in the world. In 2007 he was appointed Managing Director of Deutscher Menzies. Australian records were broken for both Australian contemporary and Aboriginal art during a year that saw the company’s sales of Australian fine art increase from $32M to $65M under his stewardship. At the same time he supervised its major re-branding to become MenziesArtBrands.


Back to the Future

At the start of 2008, after yearning to work once more with artists and art communities, Adrian Newstead and his staff returned to a full time commitment to Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery. He completed his book The Dealer is the Devil- An Insider’s History of the Aboriginal Art Trade, and a web site detailing the lives and art of the 200 most important artists of the Indigenous art movement - now the Cooee Art MarketPlace

Adrian Newstead was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2016 Australia Day Honours for his service to the museum and galleries sector, particularly through the promotion of Indigenous arts. His passion to support Aboriginal artists and their communities, is the foundation on which the success of Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery and Consultancy has been built. Today he passes this passion on to those who will carry the gallery into the decades ahead.


The Dealer is the Devil

Adrian Newstead spent 7 years compling the part road trip, part memoir, part hisotry text, part political commentary that is 'The Dealer is the Devil: An Insider's History of the Aboriginal Art Trade'. Read more detail here


"the text is a masterpiece of arts writing"

- Clive Tilsley, Books+Publishing


Click here to buy the book online