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Rockefeller family trophy paintings net $646 million to open auction

May 8, 2018
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Some of the finest and rarest masterpieces ever put up for auction brought in a record-setting $646 million Tuesday night at the Christie’s auction house in New York City.

The sale of the vast personal art collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller, gathered from their world travels and handed down from previous generations, beat out the $484 million estate sale of work owned by Yves Saint Laurent in 2009.

Rockefeller family trophy paintings net $646 million to open auctionRockefeller family trophy paintings net $646 million to open auction

The bidders came ready to spend big bucks and they walked away with a treasure trove of trophy paintings. Seven artists set records, including Matisse’s “Odalisque couch aux magnolias,” which sold for $80,750,000 and Monet’s Nympheas en fleur (water lilies), which sold for $84,687,500.

The star of the night was Picasso’s “Young Girl with a Flower Basket,” which sold for a cool $115,000,000. The painting once belonged to Gertrude Stein, the American writer and collector who was friends with Picasso. Her brother Leo bought it for $30 in 1905.

Image: Picasso Fillette a la corbeille fleurie
Picasso’s “Young Girl with a Flower Basket”Courtesy Rockefeller Collection

It is the highest sale expected of the more than 1,500 lots.

No purchasers came forward; however, a Christie’s spokesperson said institutions were among the winning bidders, meaning some of the rare works of art could soon come to a museum near you.

The Rockefellers are considered an American dynasty and bidders came wanting a piece of that royalty, fortune and fame.

Their unique collection, which includes more than 2,000 items, is on display at Christie’s auction house in New York leading up to the close of the week-long auction. The collection features modern, impressionist, and American masterpieces, many of which have never been seen publicly.

David Rockefeller’s grandson Adam Rockefeller Growald attended the auction, excited to see his grandfather’s art collection shared with the world. “If he were here he’d be thrilled and he would bid on everything. He loved his art,” Growald said.

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