Thursday, December 2

Art Collection Expected to Reach at Least $ 600 Million to Help Resolve Divorce | Art

It’s a collection that has achieved near-mythical status in the art world, one containing spectacular works by Picasso, Rothko, Warhol, and a nightmare sculpture by Giacometti of a Pinocchio-like nose in a cage.

After an American judge ordered its sale to help resolve the bitter divorce of a billionaire couple, there have been a number of rumors and stories about who would sell the collection and when.

On Thursday, the auction house Sotheby’s announced that it had won the battle to sell and that it would hold two auctions of works with a combined estimate of $ 600 million, the highest figure ever assigned to a single collection.

The collection is owned by Harry and Linda Macklowe, a spectacularly wealthy New York couple who began divorce proceedings five years ago after 59 years of marriage.

Giacometti's Le Nez and Warhol's Nine Marilyns.
Giacometti’s Le Nez and Warhol’s Nine Marilyns. Photograph: Image courtesy of Sothebys

Attorneys for the couple, both in their 80s, have discussed how belongings should be divided and valued, including the incredible art collection. A judge eventually ordered 65 of the most valuable works to be sold and the proceeds divided.

It is these works that will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in November and May.

Charles Stewart, the auction house’s chief executive, said it was “one of the most important museum-quality collections of modern and contemporary art ever to hit the market.”

“This collection was assembled with an unparalleled eye over several decades,” he said. “There is no doubt that this sale will captivate the best collectors around the world and make history as a watershed moment in the art market.”

The best collectors will need a lot of money. The Giacometti sells with an estimate of at least $ 70 million. A similar estimate has been made in Mark Rothko’s number 7, an 8-foot-tall 1951 painting featuring three vibrant and mesmerizing fields of lavender, green, and crimson.

The Warhol’s in the sale include Nine Marilyns, a silkscreen based on a 1953 publicity photograph of Marilyn Monroe from the film Niagara. The work is one of only two in private hands and has an estimated $ 40 million to $ 60 million.

The same estimate has been made on a giant Cy Twombly 2007 painting of red peony flowers, one of a group of six monumental paintings known as A Scattering of Blossoms.

Artwork by Cy Twombly.
Artwork by Cy Twombly. Photograph: Image courtesy of Sothebys

There are also works by Jeff Koons, Agnes Martin, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, and Brice Marden.

Harry Macklowe is one of the best known real estate developers in New York. His ex-wife Linda is a prominent figure in the city’s art scene and an honorary member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Trustee of the Guggenheim Foundation.

While they were married, they were known for their excesses. When New York’s jazz-era landmark, the Plaza Hotel, reopened after a $ 400 million renovation, Harry Macklowe bought an entire floor of the residential block, resulting in the couple living in nine apartments in one.

Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe in 2005.
Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe in 2005. Photograph: Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Their divorce has been bitter and very public. After Harry Macklowe married his new wife Patricia Landeau had installed a thousand-square-foot portrait of the happy couple in a skyscraper overlooking Central Park.

Sotheby’s has put a combined estimate of $ 600 million on the sale, the highest estimate ever made for a collection to be auctioned. But he thinks the figure is conservative. The suggestion is that the sale could exceed the $ 835 million made by Christie’s in 2018 when it sold the David and Peggy Rockefeller art collection.

He has high hopes for the Giacometti which Brooke Lampley, global director of global fine art sales, described as “one of the most extraordinary sculptures I have ever encountered.

Conceived in the late 1940s, this is a bold and daring work that references both surrealism and African sculpture. No other example of this work has appeared at auction. Almost all the casts were immediately acquired by major museums around the world. “

Sotheby’s would have had a tough battle with Christie’s to secure the sale of the collection. He declined to go into details, but confirmed that he had offered a guaranteed price for the sale, which means that it will be paid even if the works are not sold.

The works will be exhibited at Sotheby’s galleries in London, Taipei, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Paris before the first sale in New York on November 15.

British auctioneer Oliver Barker will be on the stand. He said that recent months had seen record demand in the upper segment of the art market and “a real hunger for great masterpieces.” The sale would be a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

He chose one of his favorites, an “impressive” work by Gerhard Richter 1975 entitled Seestück. He said it condensed the influence of 19th century artists such as JMW Turner, John Constable and Caspar David Friedrich, but was at the same time “resolutely contemporary … a powerful illustration of Richter’s high status among living artists today.”

It is one of four Richter seascapes on this scale and is priced between $ 25 million and $ 35 million.

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