New auction house teems with talent


Two well-known and highly regarded South African art specialists have come together to launch a new brand of auctioneering firm that responds to the needs and requirements of this rapidly growing industry. Mary-Jane Darroll and Ruarc Peffers are launching Aspire Art Auctions.

These partners are creating an auction house with a clear vision that focuses entirely on the promotion of the fine arts. Stemming from their respective careers in the field; Ruarc Peffers completed a first-class Masters in curating and criticism at Edinburgh University and is South Africa’s most skilled art auctioneer, while Mary-Jane Darroll, since completing her Masters in Fine Arts degree, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in auction, as well as curating important historical and contemporary exhibitions.

Their company, Aspire Art Auctions, represents a grouping of partners with formidable agglomerated knowledge and specialisation – representing the longest combined secondary art market experience in South Africa. “Our goal is to promote, advance, build and sustain the South African art market, not only on home soil but with a specific and intentional international reach,” says Darroll.

Over the past two decades, the South African art market has emerged from a small enterprise to a multi-million-rand industry and is increasingly developing in value to be more in line with international pricing. Though the quality of art produced locally is on par with international art, the values still tend to lag. According to Peffers, “significant international interest in the African art market is based on both the caliber of the art produced and its increasing value in the global market.” He continues; “Our interest in the industry is to build a significant and strong market for South African and African art now and into the future, and to increase the profile of local art and artists, both here and abroad.”

Darroll points out that in the last twenty years, the art industry has witnessed a dramatic and unprecedented growth. “The market has increased exponentially and given rise to more artists, galleries, dealers, consultants and auctioneering firms than ever before. The mechanisms of the industry, however, have been slow and resistant to change, and have not entirely kept pace with the rate of development nor with new areas of growth.”

Aspire Art Auctions represents almost forty years’ experience in the art industry, and this experience will be coupled with renowned businessmen, Brian Joffe and Adrian Gore, who are providing the backing and support to launch this new, specialist, auctioneering firm, which will present a serious force in the art market. As enthusiastic art collectors, both Joffe and Gore, are aware of concerns that there is a lack of expertise and sustainability in the market, and have recognized the opportunity and potential impact this firm offers.

At the heart of this new business is the preservation and development of the art industries in Africa and, ultimately, the raised profile of African modern and contemporary art and artists abroad. The company enjoys the participation of director Kevin Handelsman, who was instrumental in the initiation of the company’s funding structures.

In a gesture largely unprecedented in the present market, Aspire Art Auctions will produce curated auctions of top-quality historical, modern and contemporary African and South African art. Exclusive focus on art and the creation of the best possible context in which to present and display artworks will make them unique in the local auction world.

It is widely accepted that the success of the art market is enhanced by a strong secondary market to underscore and support its market values. The sustainability of the historical market is also affected, as collectors require a strong secondary market that supports the resale of their artworks.

Aspire Art Auctions launches with a live auction in Johannesburg at the end of October 2016. They will also present an online auction platform.

For further information, free valuations and consigning art for auction, contact:

Mary-Jane Darroll 082 567 1925

Ruarc Peffers 084 444 8004

Image: Mary-Jane Darroll and Ruarc Peffers of Aspire Art Auctions: Suzy Bernstein