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Auction Results - The Rod Menzies Estate Indigenous & Oceanic Art Collection Part I


A clearly delighted Cameron Menzies, acknowledging Cooee Art Leven’s triumphant result immediately following the sale referred to it as ‘One for the Ages’.

‘Rod would have been so very proud of your professional dedication and magnificent achievement’, he told the clearly delighted Cooee staff on behalf of his family.

The evening, which began with a touching and heartfelt acknowledgement of country by the Gamillerroi/Wakka Wakka Elder Auntie Shirley Lomas. She spoke of the great pride Indigenous artists derive from their creativity and acknowledged those great collectors like the late Rod Menzies who get such enormous pleasure from living with it.

Auctioneer Anita Archer took to the podium in front of a packed audience in Cooee Art Leven’s Redfern Showroom. By the time she dropped the gavel for the final time two hours later, the total value of the sale had exceeded $2,250,000 (incl. BP); one hundred percent of all lots had sold by volume and the action had achieved 128% by value.

The cover lot Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Earth’s Creation II (Lot 29), a magnificent maelstrom in swirling blue, white and burgundy, was painted during the same workshop as Earth’s Creation I which still holds the highest record for a work by Australian female artist at public auction, having sold at Cooee Art for $2.1 million in 2017. Though less than half the size of that monumental masterpiece, Earth’s Creation II achieved $700,000 on the hammer ($875,000 incl BP).

Other highlights of the sale included, three additional works painted by Kngwarreye in 1994: Lot 31, a black and white version of her Bush Yam series ($100,000); Lot 47, a brooding depiction of her country Alhakere ($68,750); and Lot 40, and a lovely cascade of gold and white linear dotting simply entitled My Country ($137,500). Maggie Napangardi Watson’s masterpiece Digging Stick Dreaming, Lot 28, sold for $125,000; while two works by the founder of the East Kimberley painting movement Rover Thomas also sold well. Lot 39, Cyclone Tracy- Willy Willy, achieved $68,750, and Bullock Hide Story, Lot 35, sold for $87,500.

Owner and Director of Cooee Art Leven, Mirri Leven, said: “We were honoured to be entrusted with this special collection. The Rod Menzies collection encompassed many prominent works in the annals of contemporary Australian Indigenous art. We achieved strong results with clients from around the world bidding on these stunning and significant artworks, many of which hold the record price for their respective artists.”

Part II of the Indigenous Art Collection from the Rod Menzies estate, will be held in March 2024.


About Cooee Art Leven

Cooee Art was established in 1981 by Adrian Newstead OAM, Senior Specialist for this auction, and runs a hybrid art model to represent and support artists in an ethical and sustainable way. During the last decade under the guidance of Director Mirri Leven, Cooee Art has undergone a continuous evolution in every facet of the business. Today, in addition to being Australia’s oldest exhibiting Indigenous-focused fine art gallery, its auction wing is a market leader with specialist knowledge, bi-annually curating and consigning the finest Indigenous art from collections across the globe since its establishment in 2017.

About Rod Menzies

The formidable Rod Menzies, who died in April 2022 aged 76, was possibly the most driven and controversial art auctioneer Australia has ever known. A self-made business magnate, he opened his art auction house in 1998 and went on to reshape the Australian art auction landscape through a combination of panache, art-world savvy, and shrewd business tactics. After partnering with Chris Deutscher in 1998, Deutscher-Menzies outstripped Christie’s and became Sotheby’s biggest rival in Australia within just 3 years. By 2004, D-M was the market leader, turning over $30.1 million compared to Sotheby’s $21.3 million and Christie’s $15 million.


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