Art Bottles Fetch $50,000 at Auction


A sold-out event and some competitive bidding saw three spectacular painted methuselah wine art bottles achieve a combined $50,000 at auction, during the inaugural Night Of Us event in Hastings.

The bottles combine premium wine from New Zealand’s best winemakers with the work of three prestigious New Zealand artists – Dick Frizzell, Martin Poppelwell and Freeman White.

Event organisers Kim Thorp and John (Mac) Macpherson, who first envisioned a community fundraising event to benefit Hawke’s Bay Foundation back in 2019, say they’ve been overwhelmed at the warm reception both the concept, and the bottles, have received.

“It was great to look out at a packed Opera House last Friday night and get a real feeling of empathy and generosity coming back at us from people embracing the story we wanted to tell,” says Kim. “They were there, of course, to enjoy an evening of great food, wine and entertainment but they were also very keen to learn about the important work the Foundation does distributing funds to charities and not-for-profits who work so hard within our Hawke’s Bay community.”

One of those charities is Nourished for Nil, a food rescue organisation that was announced as the recipient of a new $25,000 endowment through Hawke’s Bay Foundation. Nourished for Nil founder Christina McBeth says the endowment, the interest from which will fund her small team of staff and volunteers to continue collecting and providing food at their three locations, is a huge help and gratefully received.

“For two years, we have been a recipient of funds generated by the general endowment of the Hawke’s Bay Foundation,” says Christina. “We are a living, breathing example of how the model of pooled community gifts are invested to deliver sustainable support. Having our own endowment fund at Hawke’s Bay Foundation is a remarkable gift that will be there forever.”

Later, as guests enjoyed a festive market atmosphere, with finger food and plentiful wine donated by Te Awanga Estate, Tony Bish Wines, Te Mata Estate, Black Barn Vineyards, Bostock Wines and Craggy Range – and beer from Giant Brewing Company – the three magnificent hand-painted methuselah (six-litre) bottles were auctioned.

A colourful collaboration between winemaker Tony Bish and renowned artist Dick Frizzell was first to go under the hammer, fetching $16,500.

Te Awanga Estate had been matched with Martin Poppelwell, who also included separate ceramic elements in the auction lot. It was this work that attained the highest auction price of the night – $17,500.

Te Mata Estate and landscape artist Freeman White’s stunning methuselah wrapped up the auction component of the evening, their bottle selling for $16,000. Each art bottle was accompanied by a second six-litre bottle for the winner to enjoy, and a third bottle donated to the artist.

Hawke’s Bay Foundation Trustee Jules Nowell-Usticke says the event was pivotal in explaining to the assembled audience how Hawke’s Bay Foundation works – pooling community funds, never spending them, and distributing the annual income. It was back in 2012 that the Nowell-Ustickes, along with nine other local families, combined their resources to endow Hawke’s Bay Foundation with $1m. “Today, the Hawke’s Bay Foundation endowment is over $4m and granted over $250,000 to 59 carefully vetted Hawke’s Bay charities in 2020,” says Jules.

Now, the Night of Us team is already in the planning stages for a 2022 event – the shape and timing of which is yet to be determined. “Like any first-time event, we’ve taken some learnings from our inaugural Night of Us and can’t wait to bring back this wonderful concept next year,” says Kim.

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