At the auction held this Monday at Sotheby’s in New York, everything was superlative: the value and depth of the collection, treasured for almost five decades; its content (65 works valued at 600 million dollars) and the noise that surrounded its sale, after the famous divorce of the collector, the New York real estate mogul Harry Macklowe, after more than half a century of marriage, almost the same period that it took him to reunite The pieces.
As a finishing touch to the big week of the autumn auction season, the first with live public, the auction of half of the Macklowe collection -the other will be offered in May- was settled with stratospheric figures. Mark Rothko’s painting No 7, a canvas just 240 centimeters high, painted in 1951 with green, crimson and lavender stripes, was auctioned for $ 82.5 million, within the anticipated assessment range of $ 70 million to $ 90 million. It is the second record of the artist, after the sale of Orange, red, yellow in 2012 for 86.9 million, in the auction house rival Christie’s, which held two big bids last week. It’s the first time that No 7 went up for auction.
The identity of the buyer is unknown, but the telephone bidding was especially intense among representatives of Asian bidders, who already represent almost half of Sotheby’s clientele in global figures.
The process of liquidating the collection has been relatively quick since the Macklowe’s divorce in 2019. A New York judge ordered them to sell the collection and split the proceeds as a condition of dissolving the marriage, given the bitter differences between the spouses. The sale was announced two months ago, the collection was presented to the press at the end of October – many of the works had been individually loaned to museum exhibitions, but this was the first time they had been exhibited together at Sotheby’s headquarters – and today 35 lots have been auctioned, with an estimated starting value of 400 million dollars.
Harry and Linda Macklowe acquired most of the works before the artists were established or achieved market valuation, often even right after they were created. Among the pieces auctioned this Monday were the great names of contemporary art (Pollock, Rothko, Warhol …), but there are three that stood out both for their auction price and for their intrinsic value: the aforementioned Rothko canvas, the 1947 sculpture by Alberto Giacometti The nose (The nose), and the Nine Marilyns by Andy Warhol, which came out with an estimated price between 40 and 60 million.
The sculpture of Giacometti, the world’s most sought-after sculptor, fetched $ 78.4 million, well below his record of $ 141 million for the work. The man with the finger, sold in 2015.
Nine o’clock Marilyns Warhol’s 1962 screenprint honoring the actress, who died shortly before, sold for $ 48.5 million, while the pop artist’s tribute to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Sixteen Jackies it was auctioned at almost 40 million.
Other masterpieces auctioned this Monday were the immense No title Cy Twombly’s 2007, depicting a vibrant peony landscape, and Number 17, 1951by Jackson Pollock, another of the session records, for 61 million.
As the century-old auction house has emphasized, the Macklowe collection is “an incomparable set that traces the cardinal points of Western art throughout the last 80 years” and that, in the case of many of the authors that compose it, allows appreciate all his artistic evolution. It’s what Sotheby’s calls a “deep” collection.
The octogenarian Macklowe is a real estate entrepreneur linked to some of the constructions that have defined the skyline of the city of skyscrapers. His Manhattan real estate promotions include iconic and sometimes controversial buildings like 432 Park Avenue and the Metropolitan Tower.
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