An auction of the largest private collection of artwork by Ralph Hotere, estimated to be worth $500,000, was pulled at the last minute after the artist called in the lawyers delaying the sale indefinitely.
The auction of 58 works on paper and two on canvas, which have rarely been seen, was to have gone ahead in Auckland at 6.30 last night.
However, Hotere had his lawyers contact art auction house Art + Object and at 3pm yesterday it announced it had been forced to call off the sale.
It had advertised that the works belonged to Wellington Maori art adviser Annette Ferguson, who had been gifted the works by Hotere in 1968.
The artist, who lives in Carey’s Bay near Dunedin, was disputing their ownership. The auction has now been postponed indefinitely.
The works were painted between 1957 and 1968 and for many years had been stored rather than displayed. One work was inscribed with the words “a gentle painting for Annette” and many others were also inscribed with her name.
Art auctioneer Ben Plumbly had earlier estimated that it was the largest private collection of Hotere’s works and that they would sell for about $500,000.
Art + Object spokeswoman Nellie Gow said there had been intense interest in the auction and the dispute over ownership was for the entire collection.
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