New world record for SA painting

LONDON – Seventeen days after a sucessful R12-million (R13.3-million including for buyers premium) bid at the Strauss & Co auction in Cape Town for Irma Stern’s still life Gladioli established a new world record price for a South African artist paid at auction, a client bidding on the saleroom floor of London auction house Bonhams doubled the existing record, paying R26.4-million (or £2.37-million in buyer’s premium) for a Stern portrait of an Indian woman from her pivotal Zanzibar period.

The 1945 work, entitled Bahora Girl and acquired directly from the artist by a forebear of its current owner, carried an initial top estimate of R10-million (or £900,000). The successful bidder is reported to have fended off “multiple telephone bidders and others also competing in the auction saleroom”, according to a press statement appearing on Bonhams’ website.