It’s not often you see a leading law firm selling off some of its boardroom and hallway art: that has been the preserve of the big end of town in recent years with the likes of BHP, Orica and Fosters getting rid of collections built up over a long period of time.

But mid-level Sydney firm Abbott Tout sold 13 paintings, drawings and other bits of art at an auction in Melbourne this week for more than $311,000, a sale that has raised eyebrows because of its rarity.

Included in the paintings sold was a Charles Blackman work, The Dreamer’s Room, sold for $160,000 compared with a pre-sale estimate of $70,000-$90,000. Arthur Boyd’s Bird at Shoalhaven sold for $100,000 compared with a pre-sale range of $80,000 to $120,000. Only one piece, a tapestry by John Coburn, didn’t sell.

Abbott Tout lost three senior partners — John Edelman, Victor Kelly and Eva Elbourne — and a number of staff in the insurance area when they moved to another Sydney firm, Hunt and Hunt, in February.

Some of those moving had more than 30 years with Abbott Tout. Included in the business lost was insurance work for the major car insurer, NRMA. Abbott Tout members merged with Home Wilkinson Lowry (HWL) in December.