Barry Colman’s Hotere collection sells for $250,000

Vive Aramoana: Painting by Ralph Hotere fetches $183,000 at auction

Former National Business Review publisher Barry Colman’s rare collection of Ralph Hotere paintings fetched $250,000 at auction last night.

The  flagship piece, Vive Aramoana, sold for $183,000, beyond the estimated $140,000 to $160,000 price range, at the International Art Centre in Parnell.

A political statement, Vive Aramoana recognised victory in the fight to stop an aluminium smelter being built at Aramoana, north of Dunedin, more than 30 years ago.

Mr Colman bought the piece in 2002 for $210,000 – a then-record price for a piece by a living New Zealand artist.

The collection of 11 Hotere works was displayed at the historic Carey’s Bay Hotel in Port Chalmers, north of Dunedin, which Mr Colman used to own with his late wife Cushla Martini.

Mr Hotere, considered one of New Zealand’s most important artists, lived in Otago for many years and used to frequent the Carey’s Bay Hotel for a drink.

The collection remained at the hotel on loan after Mr Colman sold the business in 2008.

When they were removed in 2009 some, including Vive Aramoana, were installed in the offices of the National Business Review in Auckland.

International Art Centre director Richard Thompson says it is rare for such a significant collection of Hotere’s works to come on the market.

The full collection from Carey Bay Hotel was sold, with spirited bidding for each painting.

Two further Hotere works, unsold at auction, are under negotiation for sale.

“Hotere works have an allure to them that makes them very powerful,” he says.

“Ralph Hotere is a very fine painter of exceptional talent but has always been reluctant to talk about his work. He prefers people to make up their own mind without influence from him.”

Prices for Hotere works have been steady for a few years but last night’s auction had reinvigorated interest in his works, Mr Thomson says.

Mr Hotere, 81, was made a member of the Order of New Zealand last year.

The International Art Centre’s sale of 140 works fetched total sales of more than $1 million.

An oil on canvas by Charles Frederick Goldie, Relics of a Bygone Age, Mere Werohia, 1933, sold for $284,000, above its predicted sale price.

An oil on canvas by Vera Cummings Patara Te Tuhi also fetched a record price of $20,000 – well beyond the predicted $8000 and $12,000.

The previous record price for a Vera Cummings painting was $18,500 at a sale at the International Art Centre earlier this year.

Mr Colman sold the National Business Review to its chief executive Todd Scott this year and remains a consultant to the business.

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$220k -> $183k over 10 years. Not a great investment.

I am sure he enjoyed having it on his wall. That is the main reason to buy art. Any increase is just a bonus.

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What a farce it has been, the drumming up of pseudo-art by the usual suspects – and the sidelining of those who really can paint.

If our judgment has to be evidence based, then Hotere paints no better than a four- or five-year-old ... as with Colin McCan't and the supremely untalented Toss Wollaston.

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I know. I had to endure one of the experts at an Auckland auction house waffling on about a piece of "work" by Hotere that consisted of no more than some childish daubs on a piece of corrugated iron.

It appears I was too stupid to appreciate the power and symbolism of this devastating critique of the colonial "hollycost".

It's a shame Barry has lost money on this but I am sure the new owner will lose plenty too as people wake up to this.

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Barry has always known when to sell. Hope that doesn't spoil a few weekends!

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Thanks Anonymous. You're quite right. The whisper is going round in the Fine Arts departments at the universities that it would be quite a good idea to get rid of any Colin McCahons or Woollstons as they may have been just a teeny little bit overrated( i.e. drummed up as geniuses by their protectors and marketers) and may not have been the Antipodean Michelangelos and Da Vincis of the supreme importance they were presented as

In other words, neither of these two ever showed any real evidence of even being competent artists.

It's quite funny really. Except if one doesn't think that fraud is terribly amusing.

Barry Colman has been very fortunate in his timing - the tide is turning on this nonsense.

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