A fierce divorce in which the warring parties were ordered to sell an art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, after failing to agree on its value, has resulted in the most valuable auction. , ever held by one of the world’s leading art houses.
More than $ 676m (£ 503m) was paid for the Macklowe Collection, collected over more than half a century by real estate magnate Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe, an honorary administrator of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The total amount made the sale the most valuable single-owner auction ever held and the most valuable auction held at Sotheby’s, the auction house said.
The 35 works included Rothko’s 8-foot-tall No. 7, which sold for $ 82.5 million, the largest single of the sale. The painting was created in 1951 and was described by Grégoire Billault, Sotheby’s President of Contemporary Art, as “a perfect symphony of colors, light and scale” and among the artist’s greatest works.
Warhol’s silkscreen Nine Marilyns sold for $ 47.4 million and his Sixteen Jackies reached $ 33.9 million. Alberto Giacometti’s bronze sculpture, Le Nez, was sold for $ 78.4 million, and another by Picasso reached $ 26.3 million.
Pollock’s issue of 17, 1951 more than doubled the bottom end of its pre-sale estimate to go for $ 61.2 million, and Cy Twombly’s nameless painting of dripping red peonies earned £ 58.9 million.
The collection also included works by Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Agnes Martin.
Macklowes, both in their 80s, built their art collection over nearly six decades of marriage, though Linda was considered the driving force behind most acquisitions.
The couple was known for making barbarian exchanges at public events, and their marital strife eventually resulted in a divorce. In addition to their art collection, there were two Manhattan apartments at stake – one worth $ 72 million – plus a $ 19 million property in the Hamptons and a 150-foot yacht.
But neither they nor their lawyers could agree on the value of their art collection. A judge concluded that the only way to determine its worth was to test the market and ordered the works to be sold.
Following a 14-week divorce case, Harry Macklowe celebrated his new marriage to Patricia Landau by posting 42-foot-tall photos of the newlyweds at one of his New York Park Avenue buildings – within sight of his ex-wife’s apartment.
Sales at Sotheby’s in New York on Monday night were considered the biggest test of the art market since the start of the Covid pandemic in early 2020. As demand generally exceeded supply, there was strong competition for the works, especially from bidders representing Asian buyers.
Nearly a third of Sotheby’s sales last year were secured to Asian collectors.
Both Harry and Linda Macklowe participated in the Sotheby’s sale. Another sale, of a further 40 works in the couple’s collection, is scheduled for May 2022.