Macklowe collection fetches $922 million at Sotheby’s art auction

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Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

This article has been updated with final prices and other details after the second auction.

More than three years after the high-profile divorce proceedings of New York real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his wife, Linda, their art collection has become the most expensive ever sold at auction, fetching $922.2 million over the course of of two different sales. .

A first batch of 35 works went under the hammer last November, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly. A work by abstract painter Mark Rothko fetched $82.5 million while Jackson Pollock’s “Number 17, 1951” sold for more than $61 million to set a new record for the artist’s work. On Monday night, the final 30 works sold for a total of $246.1 million, with works by Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Willem de Kooning and Agnes Martin. Highlights included another untitled painting by Rothko, which sold for $48 million and a self-portrait by Warhol which fetched $18.7 million. By the end of the night, it was a “white glove sale”, meaning every piece of work had been sold.

Cy Twombly’s untitled 2007 work sold for nearly $59 million at the first auction. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

“This is a collection that has never been moved (or) touched,” Grégoire Billault, president of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, said at a press conference announcing the two-part auction in September. latest. “Quite often, when we have collections for sale, a large part has already been sold, or some (works) are given to museums; others are given to family members.”

The Macklowe Collection surpassed the previous record for the highest value of a single art collection – the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, which totaled $835.1 million at Christie’s in 2018.

The Macklowes married in their early twenties in 1959 and had since accumulated all of their significant assets together, including a $72 million apartment, a yacht and several commercial properties, according to court documents. They started their art collection shortly after their marriage.

At Giacometti's

Giacometti’s ‘The Nose’ (left) sold for $78.4 million, while Andy Warhol’s ‘Nine Marilyns’ (right) fetched $47.4 million at the first auction . Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

In 2018, during their divorce proceedings, a New York State Supreme Court judge ordered the Macklowes to sell 65 works of art from their collection and split the profits, after experts hired by the couple provided very different assessments of the value of some of the works of art. Appraisals of the existential sculpture “La Nez” by Alberto Giacometti, for example, have ranged from $30 million.

The court ruling sparked a battle between auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips to market the collection; named art dealer Michael Findlay delayed the decision in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to Artnet.
Mark Rothko's painting

Mark Rothko’s ‘No. 7’ painting (left), which sold for $82.5 million, and Pablo Picasso’s ‘Figure’ sculpture (right), which beat estimates at 26, $3 million at the first auction. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Giacometti’s sculpture ultimately sold for over $78 million, the second highest price achieved in the first part of the auction. Elsewhere, Warhol’s ‘Nine Marilyns’ – one of the pop artist’s famous serial Marilyn Monroe serigraphs – had fetched over $47 million and a Picasso sculpture honoring French poet Apollinaire fetched over $26 million of dollars.

At a virtual press event announcing the sale in September, Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart called the Macklowe Collection “one of the most significant, museum-quality collections of modern and contemporary art ever put on display. the market”.

And what he predicted came true. He added: “This sale will … go down in history as one of the defining moments in the art market.”

Top image: Harry and Linda Macklowe attending the Guggenheim International Gala Dinner in 2015.

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