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The painting, Vive Aramoana, was part of a collection of 13 works which had adorned the walls of Carey's Bay Hotel in Dunedin to go under the hammer at the International Art Centre in Auckland's Parnell tonight.
The paintings were installed in the hotel between 2001 and 2005 after a $1.6m refurbishment by its owners former National Business Review publisher Barry Colman and his late wife Cushla Martini.
Mr Colman allowed the collection to stay at the hotel on loan after selling the business in 2008.
They were finally removed in August 2009 and installed in the new National Business Review offices in Auckland.
Mr Colman sold the magazine earlier this year.
The collection covers Hotere's work from 1973 to 1992.
Works include lithographs, a 1989 multimedia work and a 1973 stagework design for a Patric Carey play at the Globe Theatre.
Vive Aramoana, the collection's flagship piece, was expected to reach between $140,000 and $160,000.
It was painted as a reaction against a proposed aluminium smelter in the small town of Aramoana, near Dunedin, as part of the then-government's Think Big scheme.
Hotere joined other artists and writers as part of the No Smelter campaign.
International Art Centre director Frances Davies said the price was "right up there" with the highest prices fetched for works by a living New Zealand artist.
"Vive Aramoana is a very emotional painting. It was a political statement against the smelter, it was painted from the heart. If you stand next to it it's got real energy about it.
"Hotere stands right in the centre of the New Zealand art market. He's one of our most important - if not the most - important New Zealand artists."
Hotere, 81, was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand last year.