How ex-Steinhoff boss Markus Jooste rocked fine art market with Pierneef fire-sale

Confused dealers

A record price of almost R20.5m ($1.4m) for a Pierneef work was paid for ‘Farm Jonkershoek with Twin Peaks Beyond, Stellenbosch’ in June 2017, about six months before the Steinhoff scandal erupted. Art dealers had expected the market to grow from there, but were left confused when some works the following year went unsold, one of the people said. Word quickly spread that Jooste was offloading at least part of his collection.

Johannesburg-based Strauss & Co sold nine Pierneef lots for a combined R9.65m in Cape Town this month, marking a “return to form,” according to an Oct. 15 statement on the auctioneer’s website. “Prices had been diluted by a recent fire sale by a distressed collector,” it said, without being more specific.

Jooste made a number of moves to realise funds in the weeks after Steinhoff’s shares crashed. He put a plot on a luxury estate up for sale and his then-investment firm offloaded a champion race horse.

He has also disposed of his portion of Jonkersdrift Farm in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, according to three people familiar with the matter. Jooste had co-owned Jonkersdrift with two other former Steinhoff directors, Frikkie Nel and Danie van der Merwe.

Steinhoff was also forced to sell assets to shore up its balance sheet and remain in operation. The owner of Mattress Firm in the US and the UK’s Poundland sold Austrian furniture chain Rudolf Leiner GmbH and stakes in firms such as KAP Industrial Holdings, among other assets.

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