Doubts surrounding the $5.2 million sale of a painting titled Points of View by unconventional Australian artist Sharon Davson have been circulating the internet with great gusto. Davson, a little known artist with a virtually non-existent auction record, claims the sale did take place and boasts of the fact that she “has remained outside of much of the standard commercial art gallery limelight”.
According to the artist, Points of View was commissioned by Norman Hepburn for his then Central Coast resort in 1985 as three continuous canvases and has changed hands several times over the decades. If the sale of the painting could be verified beyond doubt, the $5.2 million (US$5.4m) price tag would make the sale of Davson’s Point of View the third highest price paid for a painting by a living female artist.
The question on everyone’s mind, however, is: why would someone would pay $5.2 million dollars for the work of a little known artist? This is the question I posed to Andrew Duncan, the reported buyer of Points of View, who purchased the work through a company listed as Macquarie Trustee NZ.
Duncan, a Queensland based property developer, is adamant that he can prove that the sale is genuine and claims that he purchased the painting because it is a good investment that he believed would retain its value.
When asked to elaborate further on the reasoning behind his purchase, Duncan referred any further questions to his lawyer who he claimed would be releasing a statement in the following weeks providing further proof of the purchase.
Through an earlier statement released via his lawyer, Duncan said regarding the sale that: "Given the comparatively small out-put by this remarkable internationally accredited artist, and with much of Davson's art sold before being created, it is very rare to have the opportunity to acquire such a major early painting. Macquarie Trustee NZ regards the purchase price for Points of View as an excellent buy".
Interestingly, Andrew Duncan lists an online gallery as one of his company websites along with two other websites neither of which are currently functioning. The online gallery in question lists Davson as one of the artists they represent along with equine artist Edward Hydo. Perhaps a clue as to the motive behind the purchase?
This is not the first time that the sale of one of Davson’s paintings has sparked debate. In 2011, it was reported that one of her works sold for $1.3million to a mystery Ballarat based company. As yet, no-one has verified beyond doubt that the sale took place or provided proof that the sale was bogus.
Davson justifies the $5.2 million paid for her work by referring to a long list of celebrities that she claims have supported her work. The list includes Sir Edmund Hillary, Neil Diamond, Paul Newman, Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti, Pete Sampras, Linda Evangelista, The Hon. Pat Farmer, Layne Beachley, Cathy Freeman, Andre Agassi, Bon Jovi and many more.
On her website, Davson refers to a small museum that has been named after her, the Davson Arts Museum, that lists a number of famous patrons including Newcastle Lord Mayor Councillor John Tate, MP World Record-holding Ultra-marathon Runner The Hon. Pat Farmer, Mark Richards and Sir Cliff Richard OBE.
Although the celebrity associations sound impressive, they certainly do not justify the $5.2 million price tag. In fact, it makes no sense that someone would “invest” such a large amount of money in an artist who has no auction record and no commercial gallery representation. But does that mean that the sale did not take place?