Te Papa dug deep into its pockets to secure the museum what it regards as iconic artworks at a significant Auckland auction.
The museum spent almost $1 million on four big-ticket lots: Gordon Walters' Painting no 7 (1965), Michael Illingworth's As Adam and Eve (1965), Brent Wong's Mean Time Exposure (1971), and Peter Robinson's Boy Am I Scarred Eh (1997).
The auction of the art collection of Wellingtonians Les and Milly Paris - widely seen as one of the largest in the country - began on Wednesday night at gallery Art + Object and, because of its vast size, finished only last night.
Gallery director Hamish Coney said the total made from the first night was more than $3.5 million, which he expected to rise to about $4 million after last night was tacked on.
"It's by far and away the most successful [auction] we've ever had," he said.
"You always have hopes and dreams, but it certainly exceeded pre-sale estimates."
It was standing room only on the first night and Te Papa chief executive Michael Houlihan was thrilled with the museum's purchases.
"Les and Milly were always very generous in loaning their works for public exhibitions, and we are pleased to be able to acquire some of their favourites," he said.
"They are important acquisitions that will strengthen our collections and will feature in the new redevelopment of our level 5 art galleries, opening next year."
The artworks' new home went down well with their former owner too.
"I am very pleased that some of the paintings have now gone into a public collection and will be seen by residents of and visitors to Wellington, my home town," Mrs Paris said.
"I congratulate Te Papa on their choices, and I know that my dear late husband, Les, would be very honoured to know of their final resting place."
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