May 8, 2018; New York Times
As we reported yesterday, Christie’s began its auction of David and Peggy Rockefeller’s art collection yesterday, from which all proceeds will go to charities the Rockefellers supported in their lifetimes. The entire collection was projected to bring between $500 million to $1 billion, which, at either end of the range, would make it a record-setter as far as auctions go. With the results of yesterday’s sale of the collection’s 19th and 20th century art now in, it is clear the higher estimate was more accurate, with a reported $646 million in sales on day one. This must be a relief to Christie’s, which reportedly guaranteed $650 million in proceeds to the family as the auction houses vied for the right to handle the sale.
The piece that went for the highest bid of the evening, as expected, was Picasso’s Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie (Young Girl with Basket of Flowers), which went for $115 million with fees. The other higher-priced bids were for Matisse’s 1923 Odalisque Couchée aux Magnolias, which went for $80.8 million following an estimate of $70 million, and Monet’s Nymphéas en Fleur (“Water Lilies in Bloom”), which went for $84.7 million with fees. Both were auction records for their respective artists.
The auction event at Christies, where piped-in bird sounds mimic those at the Rockefeller family abode in Pocantico, New York, will proceed through today and tomorrow. A portion of the estate is also being sold online through Friday.—Ruth McCambridge