Last evening, New York’s art patrons gathered at Christie’s auction house in Midtown Manhattan for the opening sale of the Rockefeller Collection. The works being auctioned were pieces of 19th- and 20th-century art collected by Peggy and David Rockefeller over their lifetimes, in addition to some oeuvres inherited from previous generations. With 100 percent of the proceeds promised to charity, the bidding was fierce – and the first sale of the series totaled $646.1 million, setting the record for the highest sum ever achieved in a single-owner sale. The previous high was $484 million, garnered in Paris in 2009 with the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime partner, Pierre Bergé. With a total of seven in-house auctions plus one online sale, the Rockefeller collection was originally estimated to top $1 billion, though with more than half of that sum achieved last night, the gargantuan estimate is sure to increase.
It’s already being hailed as the sale of the century. Seven new auction records were set for world-renowned artists including Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Eugène Delacroix, Armand Séguin, Giorgio Morandi, Odilon Redon, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. All of the 44 works on offer were sold, though that comes as no surprise, as Christie’s guaranteed the entire collection.
Nymphéas en fleur by Claude Monet.