A 100-YEAR-OLD painting that was retrieved from a refuse bin in the Karoo has been sold for almost R56000 in Cape Town.
The painting of The Bluff, Durban by renowned South African artist Ruth Prowse, featured at the auction of Strauss & Co's Evening Sale on Monday. More than 100 paintings went under the hammer for a total of R46-million.
Auction house spokeswoman Bina Genovese said The Bluff, Durban, was found by a man removing rubbish after residents vacated a house in Laingsburg 25 years ago.
Genovese said the man, whose identity has not been made public, responded to the company's advert to send an image of a painting for a valuation.
"He was delighted when the auction house identified it to be by Ruth Prowse and estimated it to be worth between R25000 and R30000. Even greater was his delight when it sold for R55700," she said.
Genovese said the painting could not have easily been identified as valuable because it was dirty and signed with Prowse's monogram.
"Also, the painting was executed in 1913 with Durban Bay not developed and the view is therefore not readily identifiable," she said.
Prowse is one of the country's most celebrated artists. She was awarded the South African Association of Arts medal of honour for her contribution to art in 1965.
The highest selling painting at the auction was Irma Stern's Malay Girl, which sold for R11.7-million, followed by Wolf Kibel's Houses with Red Roofs, which sold for more than R3.5-million.
Ashbey's Galleries owner Anne-Marie Beck said although people often splashed out on artworks, they seldom considered it an investment.
"People buy art because they like it. Mostly it's about the artwork, who is the artist, what is the medium and what is the potential growth in the market. But seldom do you get someone who invests a lot of money in art," Beck said.
A senior art specialist at Strauss & Co, Emma Bedford, said the auction house advised people to buy art because they liked it.
"Certainly people are getting higher returns, but it is not a rapid turnover. It tends to be people who bought work decades ago who are seeing phenomenal returns because there is a renewed and passionate interest in South African art," Bedford said.