Christie's to sell $150 million private collection

Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:17am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Christie's will offer a private art collection valued at more than $150 million in May, the auctioneer said on Wednesday, including a Picasso estimated to be worth $70-90 million.

The collection, belonging to leading U.S. art patrons Frances and Sidney Brody, was described as "one of the most valuable ever offered at auction" and aims to tap strong demand at auction for rare works of art coming from private holdings.

"As witnessed at the recent London sales of impressionist and modern art, the appetite among major collectors for top-quality works of great rarity and exceptional provenance continues to reach new heights," said Edward Dolman, CEO of Christie's International.

"We have no doubt that the caliber of this collection will ignite collector interest worldwide and yield exciting results in the sale room this May." The highlight of the New York sale on May 4 is Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" from 1932 which is expected to fetch up to $90 million.

The Brodys acquired the depiction of the artist's mistress Marie-Therese Walter in the 1950s from Picasso's dealers, and a preview of the May auction will be the first time the work has been publicly displayed for 50 years.

Other major works include Henri Matisse's "Nu au coussin bleu" (1924), estimated at $20-30 million, and Alberto Giacometti's Grande tete de Diego (1954) estimated at $25-35 million.

The Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody began when Sidney, a Los Angeles real estate developer, gave his wife Frances a Henry Moore sculpture for Christmas.

"Sid put it under the Christmas tree. And well, by then I guess we were hooked," she recalled in a later interview.

Frances died in 2009 aged 93, and a portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, of which she was a patron in later life.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)