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National Treasures on Auction

Few people get to work in an office alongside a painting that could be worth R16 million. This could be due to the fact that there are only a few paintings in this country worth this amount, and perhaps few people would be able to get any work done in the company of such national treasures.

For almost the last four months Alex Richards, the head of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture, and his colleagues at Cape Town’s Strauss & Co offices in Newlands, have been working under the watchful gaze of Irma Stern’s titular Young Arab. She encountered her subject during a trip to the Congo in the early 1940s. Stern made portraits of a range of subjects, but it is those termed as “Arab” that are the most sought after.

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