Art collector ‘cleaning out cupboards’ for sale
The last time businessman John Schaeffer offloaded his art collection was 2004 amid a divorce and losing his controlling interest in the Tempo Services cleaning business he founded in 1971.
In recent years, Mr Schaeffer has built up another collection of Victorian-era art including paintings by Frederic Leighton, Law- rence Alma-Tadema and Edward John Poynter that cover the walls of his Bellevue Hill, Sydney, mansion, Bonnington.
He is again clearing out a substantial part of his collection in a single-vendor sale through Sotheby’s Australia that aims to realise more than $4.4 million. The auction of 56 lots is on April 29.
Among the highlights are a 2m marble sculpture of Orpheus by William Wetmore Story that stands in Mr Schaeffer’s front yard, and Poynter’s painting A Corner of the Market-Place with its original frame. “Increasingly it is a struggle between cashflow and having the things,” said Mr Schaeffer, who last month sold a Dover Heights house for $9m. “If it doesn’t sell, no problem, (the artworks) are not at fire-sale prices, they are around the values at which I acquired them.”
Mr Schaeffer has a new obsession and plans for the Tudorstyle Bonnington. In 2016 he bought a large collection of classical sculpture and architectural details from English collector Peter Hone. The 120 pieces are waiting to be unpacked from a container.
Inspired by Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, Mr Schaeffer wants to build a conservatory in the garden at Bonnington to house his new collection.
“I am looking to clean out some cupboards. I have lovely plans for the revenue it will create, including some improvements to the house,” he said. Mr Schaeffer has provided acquisition funds or donated artworks to the National Portrait Gallery — he and Robert Oatley helped purchase John Webber’s 1782 portrait of Captain Cook — and to the Art Gallery of NSW.
Last year he formally donated to the AGNSW his Leighton marble sculpture An Athlete Wrestling with a Python.
Collector John Schaeffer with the marble sculpture of Orpheus by William Wetmore Story in the garden of his Bellevue Hill, Sydney, home