Aspire Art Auctions in Cape Town coup

“Love Lost” by Marlene Dumas sold for R7 283 200.

Aspire sets a new bar for the market in its latest Autumn 2019 Auction in Cape Town, with a South African auction record for its cover lot, an early work by international star Marlene Dumas achieving over R7 million. Further successful sales include a range of paintings by Alexis Preller from across his career, and new world records for work by Jane Alexander, Simphiwe Ndzube and Moshekwa Langa. These results further establish Aspire’s growing reputation as the discerning auction house for handling contemporary South African art.

“Kollig Kunsaand” Woordfees event at De Warenmarkt. The speaker on the evening was Ena Jansen, a friend of Marlene Dumas. 

Aspire Art Auctions’ latest auction was held on 3 March 2019, at Avenue, the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. The company has developed its reputation as an agile, innovative and discerning auction house, with proven expertise across all segments in the historical, modern and contemporary periods.

Despite the competitive nature of the Cape Town art market, and this sale immediately following the Cape Town Art Fair, Aspire has demonstrated its growth and consistency with impressive results. The sale’s catalogue cover lot – a brilliant performance from the significant early painting by South African-born and Dutch-based international artist Marlene Dumas – Love Lost (1973/4) achieved R7 283 200, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of R3 000 000.

Leading signatures

Aspire has developed a reputation as the auction house to successfully handle the work of Alexis Preller. Aspire holds the world record for the artist, selling his Adam (1972) last year for over R9 million. This auction included several of his works across the timeline of his career. Leading the offering was a beautiful figurative post-expressionist early work from 1939, Congo Figures, which sold for R4 552 000. A mid-career still life followed; The Blue Plate from 1956 – featuring some of the artist’s famous ‘household gods’ in its composition, achieving R2 276 000. An impressive abstract work, Tower – Zimbabwe Ruins, from 1967 and amply demonstrating his mastery of colour, sold for R455 200.

Alexis Preller, Congo Figures, 1939 | Sold for R4.5 million

Aspire’s ability to perform in selling historic work was strongly demonstrated in this sale. A quintessential still life, Still life with roses (1948) by the inimitable Irma Stern sold for R2 276 000. A particular highlight was the exemplary incised wood panel by Cecil Skotnes from 1983, which sold significantly above its high estimate. After a fierce bidding war, Headsold for R1 365 600, realising one of the artist’s highest prices at auction in recent years.

Left: Alexis Preller, The Blue Plate, 1956 | SOLD FOR R2.2 million Right: Alexis Preller, Tower – Zimbabwe Ruins, 1967 | SOLD FOR R455 200

Aspire is highly regarded for its success in the contemporary market – testimony to its strategic positioning and depth of understanding in this field. This sale saw works by emerging and established artists perform incredibly well, including several world and auction records.


The South African born, LA-based rising star, Simphiwe Ndzube, achieved a world auction record for his large-scale diptych Sarah and Some Gentlemen (2014) sold for R512 100, well above its pre-sale estimate of R250 000.

One of the most celebrated contemporary artists South Africa has produced, Dutch-based Moshekwa Langa’s the cyclone that never abates fetched R448 000, significantly above its high estimate; a world auction record for the artist and Aspire.

Moshekwa Langa | the cyclone that never abates | SOLD FOR R455 200

“We are gratified to see our reputation as purveyors of the finest contemporary art in the South African auction market grow, further solidifed by this sale”, says Ruarc Peffers, MD, Senior Art Specialist and auctioneer. “Consistently good performance in our sales, especially in the contemporary segment, allows us to pay royalties to those artists under the terms of our Artist’s Resale Rights (ARR) initiative, awarded the Best Strategic Project Award by Business Arts South Africa last year. More than this, we’re pleased that our strategy of a focus on quality, across all the segments of historic, modern and contemporary art, and on developing and deploying our expertise within these segments, is being recognised by our clients.”