Leonard Joel’s Decorative Arts auction sells rare six-piece Robert Prenzel bedroom furniture set for $240,500

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The six lots of Prenzel sold to four different buyers for a total of $240,500 (hammer), beating their total high estimate of $164,000 by $76,500. Bidding was particularly strong for the sink with marble top, which sold for $50,000 (hammer) against an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.

A combination of factors has made the Laidlaw suite attractive to collectors, said Leonard Joel’s decorative arts manager David Parsons.

The marble sink by Robert Prenzel was particularly sought after. It sold for $50,000 (hammer).

“It was gifted, undamaged, by the original family, and is the richest suite in Australian design,” says Parson. “All of those things came together to make it more special than any of the other sequels.”

Prussian-born Prenzel arrived in Melbourne in 1888 and became one of the colony’s most important furniture makers, admired for his extraordinary Art Nouveau carvings of Australian flora and fauna. The Laidlaw Suite is a stunning example, thriving with native animals – cockatoos, rosellas, ibises, kookaburras, sugar gliders, crows, koalas – as well as flowering acacias, fruiting foliage and young eucalyptus trees.

Parsons says the last part of Prenzel’s comparable suite (three-bedroom pieces) was auctioned in 2011 at Sotheby’s Australia and failed to sell against an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.

Prenzel’s only other known intact bedroom set, the six-piece Mathias Suitecreated 1906-1907, is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Robert Clinch’s ’24 Four Variations on a Theme of Paganini’, 1991, sold for $120,000 (hammer), against an estimate of $25,000-35,000.

Meanwhile, the appetite for the Cbus art collection shows no signs of abating. The first of three online-only auctions on Tuesday night posted another batch of respectable numbers for the super fund. The auction of 71 lots of modern and contemporary art brought in a total of $779,500 (hammer), with 86% of the lots sold and 122% by value.

Bidding was fiercest for two paintings by contemporary realist painter Robert Clinch, with 24 variations on a theme by Paganini1991, reaching the highest auction price of $120,000 (hammer) against an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

The second highest price in the auction was for Clinch’s Silent protest1991, which sold for $70,000 against an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

A small old Howard Arkley painting of a hyper colorful double fronted suburban house, Western suburbs1988, was also highly coveted, and sold for $24,000 against an estimate of $5,000-8,000.

Auctions open Thursday for Cbus’ traditional and modern art collection, in the second of three online-only sales.

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