In a South African first, a photo went under the hammer for more than R1 million.
Award-winning local artist, Athi-Patra Ruga's The Knight of the Long Knives I fetched a record-breaking R1,707,000 at fine art auctioneers Strauss & Co's recent contemporary art sale held in Cape Town this month.
"The remarkable sale price not only set a new world record for the East London-raised artist, but also marked the first time a photograph has ever sold for more than R1 million at a local auction," according to the auction house. Strauss says two bidders determinedly tried to outbid each other, in a fierce contest to secure the photograph.
The 2013 photo is of a woman in black pumps and pink stockings with her upper body covered in multi-coloured balloons. She is riding a dressed up zebra.
The Knight of the Long Knives I forms part of the artist's Future White Women of Azania series that comprises a set of mythical characters like the one mounted atop the zebra.
In making The Knight of the Long Knives I Ruga told UK publication, The Guardian "I wanted to create a quasi-funereal procession, with pomp and fanfare. I decorated the zebra a bit like a holy cow in India, or a Spanish horse, or a dressage champion, giving it sabre teeth and custom-made accessories."
The top-selling lot after Ruga was an early work by painter Marlene Dumas, which sold for R1,593,000, a new SA record for the Amsterdam-based artist.
A colourist landscape painted in 1997 by Robert Hodgins rounded off the top three, fetching R1,024,000.
Overall, the contemporary art auction fetched R12.8 million in sales.
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