15 Apr 2016

NZ Post sells art collection

11:38 am on 15 April 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words, but for New Zealand Post the value was much higher last night.

Steve Harris' painting of a Ratana Church went for $24,000

Steve Harris' painting of a Ratana Church went for $24,000. Photo: Supplied/Dunbar Sloane website

The New Zealand Post Art Collection was the first lot under the hammer at Dunbar Sloane's fine art auction last night.

Eighteen art works owned by the postal company fetched a total of more than $160,000.

Steve Harris' painting of a Ratana Church went for $24,000, well above its $6000 - $10,000 estimated price.

Art consultant John Perry said it was one of the surprises of the evening.

"$24,000 that's got to be a record for (Harris)... it exceeded the estimate at least by nearly 150 percent."

It wasn't New Zealand Post's highest grossing painting though - Gretchen Albrecht's Nomadic Geometrics sold for $33,000.

Dunbar Sloane director of art Helena Walker said it was an excellent night for New Zealand Post's collection.

"It is quite a diverse collection."

She said many of the works were very large because of the commercial nature of the collection.

There were two paintings which didn't sell because the bids didn't meet reserve.

"Overall, most of the works were achieving above their upper estimates which is fantastic," Ms Walker said.

New Zealand Post has been suffering from falling mail volumes in recent years.

Chief financial officer David Walsh said the tough environment, as well as renovations at the Wellington head office, were behind the sale.

He said the collection was built up over the 80s and 90s.

"We've been making decisions in recent times about divesting businesses and properties, this is part of that, but also in terms of our property we just thought it was a sensible thing to do while we refurbish the building."

A few art works that had been gifted to the company or featured post offices had been retained, Mr Walsh said.

A second auction of the more affordable works will be held this afternoon.

Gretchen Albrecht's Nomadic Geometrics

Gretchen Albrecht's Nomadic Geometrics Photo: Supplied/Dunbar Sloane website