NY art dealer's collection sells for $55 million

Tue May 10, 2011 11:51am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Works from the collection of New York art dealer Allan Stone sold for $55 million at Sotheby's on Monday, which was well above expectations and gave a boost to the spring auction season.

The Stone sale, built around artists represented and collected by the dealer, who died in 2006, set a record for sculptor John Chamberlain and took in $27.5 million, compared to a pre-sale estimate of $16 million, for 18 works by artist Wayne Thiebaud, whom Stone first championed in the early 1960s.

"We had an excellent night tonight, as happens when you expose great art to a global audience," said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art.

Alex Rotter, directory of contemporary art at Sotheby's in New York, said that in the Thiebaud session American bidders competed with an international audience for the first time.

Stone founded the Allan Stone Gallery 50 years ago after first working as a Wall Street lawyer. He became legendary in art circles for his obsessive collecting, which was not limited to art. At one time he reportedly owned more than two dozen Bugatti automobiles.

The top lot was Chamberlain's "Nutcracker," which Stone bought in 1964, and which soared to $4.8 million including commission, a new artist's record and more than three times the estimate.

Five works by Thiebaud, whom Stone first met when the artist walked into his gallery in the spring of 1961, made the top 10, led by "Pies," a 1961 depiction of more than a dozen slices of pie on plates which fetched $4 million.

"Four Pinball Machines (Study)" went for $3.44 million, more than four times the estimate, while "Candies" soared to $2.77 million on a $600,000 estimate, selling to an Asian collector.