David and his wife Peggy’s collection is expected to surpass the current record for a single-owner collection which was set by the Yves Saint Laurent sale eight years ago when it achieved $443m.
Christie’s will offer more than 2000 items from the estate, making it the largest charitable auction ever.
Rockefeller (1915-2017), the youngest son of American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr, died in March and was the last surviving grandson of Standard Oil baron John D Rockefeller – the US’s first billionaire.
Selected highlights of the collection will begin a global tour in Hong Kong this week before exhibitions in London, Los Angeles and New York ahead of the auction in spring next year.
The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller features artists including Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Georges Seurat, Juan Gris, Paul Signac, Edouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper.
Picasso’s 1905 Fillette à la corbeille fleurie (Young Girl with a Flower Basket) is a major highlight and has an interesting provenance.
The painting was acquired in 1905 by collectors and brother and sister Leo and Gertrude Stein. Following Gertrude’s death in 1946 it passed to her partner Alice B Toklas and was owned by her until she died 21 years later. In 1968, David Rockefeller formed a group of important art collectors to acquire the renowned collection of Gertrude Stein.
Rockefeller managed to secure ownership of Fillette à la corbeille fleurie following a novel selection process. The group of collectors selected slips of numbered paper from a felt hat. Rockefeller drew the first pick in the syndicate, so that he and Peggy were able to acquire their first choice, the Picasso. They placed it in the library of their 65th Street New York townhouse.
The painting will be estimated in the region of $70m at Christie’s.
Alongside an exceptional selection of paintings, the collection also includes English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, and American decorative arts and furniture.
A Chinese gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus made in the imperial workshops by order of the Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722) carries an estimate of $400,000-600,000.
Sèvres porcelain made for Emperor Napoleon I of France, part of a ‘Marly Rouge’ dessert service, is offered at $150,000-250,000.
All estate proceeds from the sales will benefit selected charities that Peggy and David supported in their lifetime.