search
Parting paintings

Bitter divorce art auction raises $676 million in New York

4 artworks sell for more than $50 million each; extensive collection went on the block after couple unable to agree on valuation in acrimonious split

  • Art handlers adjust Mark Rothko's 'No. 7' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    Art handlers adjust Mark Rothko's 'No. 7' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • A man inspects Andy Warhol's 'Nine Marilyns' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    A man inspects Andy Warhol's 'Nine Marilyns' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • Cy Twombly's 'Untitled' is on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    Cy Twombly's 'Untitled' is on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • A curator talks about Alberto Giacometti's 'Le Nez' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    A curator talks about Alberto Giacometti's 'Le Nez' on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • Andy Warhol's 'Sixteen Jackies', left, and Jeff Koons' 'Baccarat Crystal Set' are on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    Andy Warhol's 'Sixteen Jackies', left, and Jeff Koons' 'Baccarat Crystal Set' are on display at Sotheby's auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • A woman takes a video of Sotheby's auctioneer Oliver Barker leading an auction of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby's on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)
    A woman takes a video of Sotheby's auctioneer Oliver Barker leading an auction of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby's on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

The New York auction of an art collection brought in $676 million on its first night Monday, in a sale that was the result of the acrimonious 2018 divorce of real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda Burg.

The couple, in their 80s, were married for nearly 60 years and did not have a prenup. Both of them were at Sotheby’s to watch the sale.

The divorce proceedings dragged out over a number of years, with the wealthy couple unable to see eye-to-eye on anything, including the valuation of their extensive art collection. The pair was therefore told to sell the art and split the proceeds.

According to reports, Macklowe had a long-running affair with a woman some 20 years his junior before filing for divorce in 2016.

Ahead of his wedding to Patricia Landeau in 2017, Macklowe plastered a giant portrait of the pair, 42 feet by 24 feet, on his landmark condominium complex at 432 Park Ave. The installation was visible for a number of blocks in Manhattan.

The sale of the Macklowe modern and contemporary art collection was billed as the highlight of the 2021 fall season, and lasted more than two hours, during which all 35 pieces were sold.

A man inspects Andy Warhol’s ‘Nine Marilyns’ on display at Sotheby’s auction house during a press preview for the upcoming The Macklowe Collection auction, Nov. 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Four of them went for more than $50 million, including a painting by Mark Rothko that went for more than $80 million, putting it on track to set a new record.

Between 200 and 300 people were allowed to attend the sale at Sotheby’s headquarters, after several virtual seasons owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two lots were tipped to be the most expensive items of the evening, but in the end a painting by the American expressionist Rothko (1903-1970), entitled “N ° 7,” which won with a sales price of $82.4 million, fees and commissions included, nudged out “Le Nez” (“The Nose”), a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966).

Both works were purchased remotely by Asian collectors, Sotheby’s said.

A woman takes a video of Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker leading an auction of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby’s on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

The sale of two paintings by the pop-art master Andy Warhol was also highly anticipated: his famous “Nine Marylins” (1962), a series of faces of the movie star Marylin Monroe, in black and white, was sold for $47.3 million, while a “Sixteen Jackies,” depicting Jackie Kennedy, found a buyer for $33.8 million.

Only 35 of the 65 pieces in the collection were sold on Monday night, with the rest to be sold in the next auction season in the spring of 2022.

But with $676 million in one night, the total could well surpass the record set by the Rockefeller collection sold in 2018 at Christie’s for $835 million.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed