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Media Release: Bonhams to auction The Laverty Collection

Media Release
25 October 2012


Bonhams To Auction Major Works From One Of The Most Significant Private Collections Of Australian Contemporary Art – The Laverty Collection.

To be sold in Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art on 24 March 2013, following previews in London, New York and Melbourne.

“The Laverty Collection has evolved in a highly intuitive and personal way, shaped not by any pre-defined plan, but rather by a love of looking at art and a desire to be actively involved with it.” Sue Cramer, 1998. Curator, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, formerly of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

“We collect with our hearts, not our heads.” Mrs Elizabeth Laverty, 2012.


The private collection of Sydney’s Dr Colin and Mrs Elizabeth Laverty is one of Australia’s greatest, featuring museum-quality works that have been sought by and lent to major galleries around the world, including the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.

The Laverty Collection auction is estimated to be worth between $4 million to $6 million, with about 300 lots to be sold, making it Australia’s most valuable sale of a single collection of indigenous and non-indigenous contemporary Australian art. It marks the first time an auction of Australian contemporary art will be previewed internationally, in London and New York – a sign of the collection’s importance.

Central to the Lavertys’ collecting ethos is the belief that Australian indigenous art should be recognised as great contemporary art and viewed alongside that of non-indigenous Australian artists, rather than exhibited separately. The couple has long championed the idea that contemporary indigenous art more than holds its own in the broader story of Australian contemporary art.

A roll call of Australia’s leading artists are represented in the Laverty collection including William Robinson, Rosalie Gascoigne, Peter Booth, Ildiko Kovacs, Ken Whisson, Aida Tomescu, Richard Larter, Louise Hearman, Robert Klippel, Louise Weaver, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Eubena Nampitjin, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Paddy Bedford, Rover Thomas, Tommy Watson, Sally Gabori and Sunfly Tjampitjin.

Several of the couples’ Whisson paintings are currently on loan to Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, for its Ken Whisson retrospective, and a number of early Papunya boards on loan to the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, as part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s touring exhibition Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art.

Bonhams’ senior consultant Tim Klingender said: “During the last four decades, Dr Colin and Mrs Elizabeth Laverty have been among the most active collectors of Australian contemporary art (both indigenous and non-indigenous), continually pursuing works from contemporary art galleries and remote art centres, collecting artists in depth and setting artists’ records when buying exceptional examples at auction.”
“They have witnessed, and been part of, the flourishing trajectory of Australian Aboriginal art, at a time when this constantly evolving field has seen many prices grow exponentially, and new movements and art stars emerge.”

“As Australia’s only international auction house, Bonhams is in a unique position to take this exceptional collection of Australian contemporary art onto the world stage, holding previews at our galleries in London and New York in February and March, and in Melbourne in March, before the exhibition and auction at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.”

Auction: Sunday, 24 March 2013, Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art.

Melbourne exhibition details:
Bonhams presents The Laverty Collection
March 2013 (exact dates to be released soon)

45 Flinders Lane

Media enquiries: Gabriella Coslovich, 0425 83 82 83,

High Resolution images available on request

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