The 37 works that will be offered at Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British art sales on November 22-23 include paintings by some of the leading names in the market including Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and C.R.W. Nevinson. They are estimated to fetch between £668,000 and £1.03m.
The auctioneers will also hold a separate single-owner sale of 66 Pablo Picasso ceramics which the Attenboroughs assembled over 50 years. They began collecting in 1954 after purchasing one of Picasso’s souvenir ashtrays. The estimate for the sale on November 22 is in the region of £1.5m.
Sotheby’s said the collection had been “assembled with immense passion and a very distinctive eye”.
Actor and director Richard Attenborough died in 2014 and his wife, the film and theatre actress Sheila Attenborough (née Sim) died in January this year. Most of the works were either acquired directly at auction or through London dealers such as the Crane Kalman Gallery, the Redfern Gallery and Leicester Galleries.
The couple’s son Michael Attenborough said: “Dad never bought a painting, sculpture or ceramic as an investment. He bought it because he loved it, because he wanted to live with it, because he knew it would give him infinite pleasure.”
The auctions this month follow the sale of 50 works from Attenboroughs’ collection at Sotheby’s in November 2009 which raised a hammer total of £3.8m.