Sotheby’s has announced the sale of a private modern and contemporary art collection featuring Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso pieces valued at more than $US600 million ($A812 million) – the highest estimate for any collection to come to auction.
The 65 works in the Macklowe Collection represented “an unrivalled ensemble that charts the high points of Western artistic achievement of the last 80 years”, Sotheby’s said.
“There can be no doubt that this sale will captivate top collectors from around the world and that it will make history as a defining moment in the art market,” chief executive Charles Stewart said at a livestreamed press conference on Thursday (US time).
The announcement is a welcome piece of revitalising news for the international art market as it rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove down sales and caused layoffs at galleries and dealerships. Sales plummeted in value by 22 per cent in the art market in 2020, according to a report by Art Basel and UBS.
The collection comes from real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda, who acquired the pieces over the course of their decades-long marriage. At their 2018 divorce trial, a New York judge ordered them to sell the collection and split the proceeds.
Sotheby’s said it would offer the Macklowe Collection at two sales in New York, one on November 15 and the second in May 2022.
The first auction will feature iconic works such as Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of Marilyn Monroe, an enormous tritone painting by Mark Rothko, and a seascape by Gerhard Richter. One Warhol work, Nine Marilyns, is estimated at $A54 million-$A81 million alone.
Other distinctive pieces that will be sold in November include Alberto Giacometti’s Le Nez sculpture of a long-nosed figure in a cage, a painting from Cy Twombly’s A Scattering of Blossoms series, and a Picasso sculpture dedicated to his friend, the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire.