The top lot was the 1960 oil on board painting The Suitor by Antipodean group artist Charles Blackman (b.1928), which was hammered down for Aus$360,000 (£195,270). It was one of the 227 lots included in the sale which ultimately brought a total of Aus$3.7m (£2.02m) including buyer’s premium.
Titled The Art of Divorce, the evening featured a surprise appearance by the Oscar-winning actor partway through the sale. He greeted the crowd: “G’day folks, how are you doin’?” Held on his birthday – also the anniversary of his wedding to now ex-wife Danielle Spencer – the evening included a round of ‘Happy Birthday’ sung by auction attendees.
It also included a performance by a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra on the violin Crowe used in the 2003 film Master and Commander. Shortly after, it was knocked down for Aus$135,000 (£73,225).
Film memorabilia, watches, guitars, cricket bats, motorcycles were all included in the sale, along with the odd curiosity, such as a copper and oak nautical rum cask and a plaster life cast of Muhammad Ali’s face.
“Divorce has its way of making you really examine the things that are essential in life and the things that are not,” Crowe said before the sale. “In the spirit of moving forward into fresh air, here’s a portion of that collection of stuff.”
Other highlights in Australian art were Sidney Nolan’s (1879-1969) watercolour Abundance (1924) and Brett Whiteley’s (1939-92) oil on board Moreton Bay Fig and Palms (1974), which took hammer totals of Aus$100,000 (£54,240) and Aus$190,000 (£103,050) respectively.
However, film memorabilia drew some of the greatest attention both before and during the auction. The cuirass he wore while playing Maximus in the 2000 film Gladiator drew enthusiastic bidding early on in the sale, eventually taking Aus$125,000 (£67,800). A pair of Doc Marten boots the actor wore in his breakthrough movie Romper Stomper were hammered down for Aus$10,000 (£5,430) to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, according to a report by news.com.au.
Crossing categories, a mosasaur skull from the late Cretaceous period skull once owned by Leonardo DiCaprio, which was hammered down for Aus$65,000 (£35,260).
The Art of Divorce— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) April 7, 2018
In case anyone is interested ... $3.7m at the coal face and around $350k of conversations ongoing ... and a bunch of stuff I didn’t really want to sell coming home ... not a bad hourly rate for a 5 hour shift . Hope you are happy and busy
Following the close of proceedings the actor took to Twitter writing: “In case anyone is interested…$3.7m at the coal face and around $350k of conversations ongoing ... and a bunch of stuff I didn’t really want to sell coming home ... not a bad hourly rate for a 5 hour shift. Hope you are happy and busy.”