Real Estate Harry and Linda Macklowe’s Art Collection Values $922.2 Million
After more than three years of high-profile divorce procedures, New York real estate billionaire Harry Macklowe and his wife, Linda, have sold their art collection for $922.2 million in two separate auctions.
Last November, the first batch of 35 artworks went up for auction, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Cy Twombly. A piece by abstract painter Mark Rothko sold for $82.5 million, while Jackson Pollock’s “Number 17, 1951” broke the artist’s previous record of $61 million.
The final 30 works sold for a total of $246.1 million on Monday evening, including works by Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Willem de Kooning, and Agnes Martin. A $48 million unnamed Rothko painting and an $18.7 million Warhol self-portrait were among the highlights of the auction. It was a “white glove sale” by the end of the night, which meant that every work had been sold.
At a press event announcing the two-part auction last September, Grégoire Billault, chairman of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, remarked, “It’s a collection that has never been moved (or) touched.” “When we have collections for sale, a lot of stuff has already been sold, or some (items) have been given to museums; others have been given to family members.”
The Macklowe collection surpassed the previous high-water mark for a single art collection, which was set by the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, which sold for $835.1 million at Christie’s in 2018.
According to court filings, the Macklowes married in their early twenties in 1959 and had since accumulated all of their important assets together, including a $72 million apartment, a yacht, and various business properties. They began collecting paintings immediately after they married.
After the couple’s hired experts produced dramatically different evaluations of what some of the artworks were worth, a New York State Supreme Court judge ordered the Macklowes to sell 65 artworks from their collection and share the revenues during their divorce proceedings in 2018.
For example, the price of Alberto Giacometti’s existential sculpture “La Nez ” ranged from $30 million.
The court judgment sparked a bidding war between Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips to sell the collection; the appointed art dealer, Michael Findlay, postponed the decision until 2020 owing to the pandemic.
The Giacometti sculpture eventually sold for more than $78 million, the second-highest price in the auction’s first phase. A Picasso sculpture commemorating French poet Apollinaire sold for over $26 million, and Warhol’s “Nine Marilyns,” one of the Pop artist’s iconic serial screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, sold for almost $47 million.
Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart termed the Macklowe Collection “one of the most significant and museum-quality collections of modern and contemporary art ever to come to market” at a virtual press event announcing the auction in September.
And his predictions came true. “This sale will go down in history as one of the defining moments in the art market,” he continued.
Despite their luxurious lifestyle, the Macklowes believe it is time for them to split up. Before their divorce in 2018, the couple had a net worth of between $900 million and $1 billion, according to a TBEN article. In 2018, they split their wealth, each receiving between $450 million and $550 million.
The Macklowes’ art collection will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in the fall. The collection’s initial auction fetched a record $676 million. The collection’s total sale value will surpass the $832 million set by late banker David Rockefeller’s art collection in 2018. Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, Albert Giacometti, Sigma Polke, Wille de Kooning, and others are among the artists represented in the Macklowes’ collection.