Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley and other famous Australian artworks go under the hammer

Penny Timms, ABC News Online, 18th March 2017

One of the most exciting events of the year for Australian art took place on Wednesday night, with an auction of some of the country's most recognisable pieces.

The Gould Collection of Important Australian Art was made up of 74 impressive works, including Sidney Nolan's Outlaw and Burke Lay Dying, Charles Blackman's The Friends, and Brett Whitleley's Galah.

While many artworks exceeded auctioneers' expectations, none managed to make it into the top five most expensive Australian artworks.

The collection had been owned by Rob Gould, a well known and highly respected art dealer, who specialises in Australian art.

He decided to put the collection up for sale, in part so that he can focus more on his contemporary art gallery in Melbourne

''I just felt it was totally wrong to have them tucked away and hidden and not being enjoyed because that's the primary function of art, is to give pleasure,'' Mr Gould said.

"Forget all the other variables that come to play, that's what it's there for, and so it just seemed the right time to do this thing."

The most prized possession in the collection was Nolan's Outlaw, an oil and enamel paint on composition board.

The piece is one of 27 Ned Kelly pieces by Nolan, painted in 1955.

It was expected to sell for between $1.2 million and $1.8 million, but exceeded expectations thanks to some keen bidding and sold for $2.1 million.

Brett Whitley's 1988 piece Galah also performed well at the Gould auction.

It was sold at its expected price of $700,000 thanks to strong public interest in the quirky piece, which features a layer of chicken wire over the painting.

Another piece that did particularly well was Rosalie Gascoigne's piece Ledger, created in 1992.

The piece is made up of split soft drink crates on plywood and was expected to sell for between 160,000 and 200,000. In the end it went for $250,000.