A painting by the late Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye has sold for $2.1 million, smashing the record for the highest price achieved at auction for an Australian female artist.
Her contemporary painting, Earth’s Creation I, was sold on Thursday night to art dealer Tim Olsen, who recently set up a gallery in New York.
The 1994 painting has an impressive exhibition record. It has been shown at the National Gallery Japan, National Museum of Osaka and the Venice Biennale, National Museum of Australia, Art Gallery of NSW and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Fine Art Bourse and CooeeArt Marketplace organised the online auction, which had to be postponed when a server crashed as thousands of people worldwide tried to log in to watch the sale.
“This has been an extraordinary journey,” Fine Art Bourse auctioneer Tim Goodman said in a statement on Thursday.
“The brokering of this stunning painting with my colleagues at Cooee has been one of the highlights of my forty year career in the auction industry. This sale will go a long way to breathing life back into the Aboriginal art market.
“Aboriginal art is back,” Mr Goodman said.
The $2.1 million sale result, which included a buyer’s premium of five per cent, smashed the record for any Australian female artist – a record set by the same painting 2007 when it sold at auction for $1.05 million.
The world auction record for an Aboriginal artist was set in 2007 when a Clifford Possum work sold for $2.4 million through Sotherby’s.
Ms Kngwarreye was from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory and did not begin painting on canvas until she was in her 80s.
Along with the rest of the Utopia community, her artwork revolved around mark making through ceremonial activity.