NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).-
With major pieces by artists like Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter and Mark Rothko, the Macklowe Collection will be sold at Sothebys with an estimated total value of more than $600 million, the auction house announced on Thursday, the highest estimate on a collection to come to auction.
Calling it one of the most significant and museum-quality collections of modern and contemporary art ever to come to market, Charles F. Stewart, Sothebys chief executive, said at a livestream news conference from the auction houses New York galleries that the sale will captivate top collectors from around the world and that it will make history as a defining moment in the art market.
That market could use a boost, given the last 18 months of pandemic-dampened activity. Auction sales declined 30% to $17.6 billion in 2020 from $25.2 billion in 2019, according to the latest Art Market report, published by Art Basel and UBS, bringing the market to its lowest level in a decade.
Moreover, auction houses have suffered from a scarcity of top-quality inventory, making a meaty collection like that of the Macklowes an especially energizing prize. (Christies competed for it.)
In recent months weve seen record demand from across the globe and a real hunger for great masterpieces, with demand far outstripping supply, Oliver Barker, Sothebys principal auctioneer, said at the news conference.
The collection of 65 works, on view in Sothebys Upper East Side showrooms, belongs to the billionaire real-estate developer Harry Macklowe and his former wife, Linda, who were unable to agree on valuations during acrimonious divorce proceedings, resulting in a court-ordered auction.
Brooke Lampley, Sothebys chairwoman and worldwide head of sales for global fine art, described the collection as the fruit of five decades of thoughtful and tenacious pursuit, driven by an innate understanding of quality.
It will be sold in two parts, one in November and the next in May, Sothebys said. The fall sale will feature 34 works of 20th- and 21st-century art, like pieces from the 1940s and some painted less than a decade ago. They include Alberto Giacomettis 1964 sculpture Le Nez (a long-nosed figure suspended within a cage) and Rothkos luminous No. 7 from 1951, each of which are expected to bring about $70 million.
Warhols haunting 1962 Nine Marilyns, a metallic silk-screen, and Twomblys expansive 2007 Untitled canvas of dripping red peonies are each estimated at $40 million to $60 million.
Sothebys expects strong interest from Asia, said Patti Wong, chairwoman of Sothebys Asia, which accounted for 30% of the auction houses total sales last year. Asian buyers are entering the field in unprecedented numbers and are ready to engage at the highest level, she said.
Highlights from the collection will travel to Taipei, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, London and Paris before returning to New York ahead of the November sale, Sothebys said, and there will also be virtual tours.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times