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Australian Financial Review  |  Peter Fish

Numerous major paintings were on offer, including an epic Arthur Boyd, a trio of paintings by Russell Drysdale and a host of works by Brett Whiteley – but it was the unexpected high-flyers that electrified auction-goers at Sotheby's last week.

The Australian-owned firm, which last year emerged at the top of the major league of art auctioneers by turnover, has a reputation for attracting top works and pitching its estimates at close to what buyers are likely to pay. While many of the prices realised at its sale in Sydney on August 16 were broadly in line with expectations, the firm's chairman, Geoffrey Smith – whose meticulous research is a byword in the business – clearly got a few surprises.

Australian Auction Review

Arthur Boyd’s Moby Dick Hill sold for $1.2 million at Sotheby’s Australia’s Sydney August 16 sale and became the third highest priced work at auction for the artist.

Sotheby’s Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith said the result was a testament to the genius of an artist who, following World War II, encapsulated the urgency and vitality of an Expressionist style that contributed significantly to the history and development of 20th century Australian art.

Australian Auction Review  |   Richard Brewster

Charles Blackman’s The Pink 1953 – acquired directly from the artist’s solo exhibition of that year and held in a private collection ever since – will be auctioned for the first time in Sotheby’s Australia’s forthcoming Important Australian Art sale from 6.30pm Wednesday August 16 at Intercontinental Sydney, 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney.

With a catalogue estimate of $250,000-$350,000 from a total sale projection of at least $9 million, the painting was included recently in the comprehensive Charles Blackman: Schoolgirls exhibition at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne.