Top 20th-century art collection could sell for $85 million at auction

Mon Oct 6, 2014 4:58pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A major collection of modern and contemporary art assembled by two of the 20th century's most prominent collectors is expected to fetch more than $85 million when it hits the auction block next month, Sotheby's said on Monday.

The sale will be led by Mark Rothko's 1951 canvas "No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)," which Sotheby's expects could sell for more than $50 million. Works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and other top artists from the collection of Pierre and Sao Schlumberger will also be offered at a series of modern and contemporary art sales in November.

"Their vision was entirely their own," said Oliver Barker, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe of the Schlumbergers, "a unique aesthetic that blended their European roots with their American experience."

Barker said the couple produced "one of the most important private collections of our time."

Pierre Schlumberger was a French oil industry tycoon whose father and uncle founded Schlumberger Limited, the world's largest oil field services company in 1926.

The couple married 1961 and Sao Schlumberger forged close relationships with artists, acquiring works by masters such as Warhol and Rothko.

Together they became patrons of the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and helped fund the restoration of the Palace of Versailles in France.

They were the first patrons to commission Warhol for a silkscreen portrait, which became one of the pop artist's stock in trade, according to Sotheby's.   Continued...

General view of the Sotheby's building in New York, February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz