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Following a high-profile divorce, this $600-million art collection is coming to market

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Nearly three years after the high-profile divorce proceedings of New York real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his wife, Linda, a large portion of their eye-popping billion-dollar art collection is coming to market.

Estimated to fetch over $600 million in total — “the highest estimate ever placed on any collection to come to auction,” according to Sotheby’s — the collection of 65 artworks include those from Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alberto Giacometti, Jeff Koons, Mark Rothko and Cy Twombly.

Cy Twombly’s untitled work from 2007 has an estimate of $40-60 million. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

“It’s a collection that has never been moved (or) touched,” said Grégoire Billault, chairman of contemporary art for Sotheby’s, at a press event. “Quite often, when we have collections for sale, a lot of it has been sold already, or some (works) are given to museums; others are given to members of the family.”

The Macklowes married in their early 20s in 1959 and had since accrued all of their significant assets together, including a $72 million dollar apartment, a yacht and multiple commercial properties, according to court documents. They started their art collection shortly after they married.

Giacometti's "Le Nez" (left) and Warhol's "Nine Marilyns."

Giacometti’s “Le Nez” (left) and Warhol’s “Nine Marilyns.” Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

In 2018, during their divorce proceedings, a New York State Supreme Court judge ordered the Macklowes to sell 65 artworks from their collection and split the profits, after the couple’s hired experts provided vastly different appraisals of what some of the artworks were worth. For Giacometti’s existential sculpture “La Nez,” for instance, the valuation varied by $30 million.

The court decision set off a battle between auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips to bring the collection to market; the appointed art dealer, Michael Findlay, delayed the decision last year due to the pandemic, according to Artnet.
Rothko's painting "No. 7" (left) and Picasso's sculpture "Figure."

Rothko’s painting “No. 7” (left) and Picasso’s sculpture “Figure.” Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

In addition to the Giacometti, other works include Warhol’s “Nine Marilyns” — one of the Pop artist’s famed serial screen prints of Marilyn Monroe — as well as a defining Rothko painting and a Picasso sculpture designed to honor French poet Apollinaire.

Some of the pieces in the impressive offering will travel to Taipei, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, London and Paris before the first sale in New York this November. The section and final sale will take place next May.

In a virtual press event announcing the sale on Thursday, Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart called it “one of the most significant and museum-quality collections of modern and contemporary art ever to come to market.”

He added: “This sale will…make history as the defining moments in the art market.”

Top image: Harry and Linda Macklowe

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