Macklowe art collection fetches $676mn
November 16 2021 11:25 PM
Mark Rothko’s “No. 7” (R), which sold for $77,500,000 ($82.4mn fees and commisions included), is dis
Mark Rothko’s “No. 7” (R), which sold for $77,500,000 ($82.4mn fees and commisions included), is displayed during an auction of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby’s in New York City. (AFP)

The first part of an art collection owned by New York real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Burg that was put on sale after their bitter divorce fetched $676mn at auction at Sotheby’s Monday night. In just two hours, the auction in New York saw a parade of 35 modern and contemporary works by artists such as Warhol, Rothko, Koons, Picasso and Giacometti go under the hammer. The $676mn total was the highest single evening sale for Sotheby’s, and with the second part of the collection to be sold in spring 2022, the total could surpass the record set by the Rockefeller collection sold in 2018 at Christie’s for $835mn. Between 200 and 300 people were allowed to attend the sale at Sotheby’s headquarters, after several virtual seasons owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Two lots were tipped to be the most expensive items of the evening, but in the end it was a painting by American expressionist Mark Rothko (1903-1970), titled “No. 7,” which won with a sales price of $82.4mn, fees and commissions included, the second highest price for one of his works. It nudged out “Le Nez” (“The Nose”), a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) which fetched $78.3mn. Both works were purchased remotely by Asian collectors, Sotheby’s said. In a sign of the buyers’ appetite, a total of four works sold for more than $50mn. An example of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings, titled “Number 17, 1951,” sold for $61.1mn, a new auction record for the American artist who died in 1956, while a massive work by abstract painter Cy Twombly went for $58.8mn. “This is a wonderful market tribute to a collection built on ruthless taste,” said art expert and consultant Erica Samuels. The sale of two paintings by the pop-art master Andy Warhol was also highly anticipated: his famous “Nine Marilyns” (1962), a series of faces of the movie star Marilyn Monroe in black and white, was sold for $47.3mn, while a “Sixteen Jackies,” depicting Jackie Kennedy, found a buyer for $33.8mn. The sale was the result of the 2018 divorce of real estate developer Macklowe and his wife Burg, honorary administrator of the Met Museum, a wealthy couple who amassed an impressive collection of art for their residences in New York and the Hamptons. After their highly publicised and stormy separation, a judge ordered the sale of the 65-piece collection after the former couple failed to agree on their value, with the remaining 30 works to be sold later.

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