Dick Frizzell painting sells for $94,000
One of the more recognisable pieces of New Zealand art – Dick Frizzell’s Mickey to Tiki Tu Meke – has sold in an online Ocula Black auction for $94,000 .
Ocula Black auctioneers had listed its indicative price as between $60,000 and $120,000.
The auction was to have closed at 8pm but ran longer as bidding continued.
It was purchased by an unidentified person using the handle “Snorky”.
The auction had opened at $54,000.
Frizzell created the original 49cm by 74cm watercolour and gouache on paper for a Canteen fundraising auction in Wellington. It then sold to a private collector for $4000.
Frizzell says it started as "a little idea ... something child-friendly to raise money for children".
"The Christchurch Art Gallery started the ball rolling when it reproduced the work as a poster," he said.
"That was the tipping point. New Zealanders were slightly wary of buying poster reproductions of art, but this painting seized their imagination."
Since 1997, when Frizzell created the original lithographic print at the Muka Print Studio in Auckland, Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke has gone on to become New Zealand’s best-selling print with more than 30,000 copies sold.
In 2007, its creator revisited Mickey to Tiki Tu Meke with a series of screen prints entitled It's About Time.
"It's certainly gripped the imagination," Frizzell said. "But I had no idea that it was going to become as popular as this.
"Of course, I've got nothing at stake with the auction - except perhaps my reputation."
Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke depicts the morphing of Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse into a Tiki.
In the title of the work the Maori phrase “Tu Meke” appears which approximately translates as “Too Much”.
Auctioneers say this has multiple meanings: is it an illusion of multiplying or a call to change, for popular icons to reflect local culture.