Arthur Lavine/Rockefeller Estate
Peggy and David Rockefeller spent decades acquiring and building up one of the most fascinating art collections in the world. Now, it is time for the collection to find its home elsewhere. Christie’s has proudly announced that they will auction off 2,000 items belonging to David Rockefeller, the recently deceased grandson of the legendary American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It is estimated the vast art collection could fetch more than $500M for charity. The Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rockefeller Fund are just some of the organizations and charities championed by the Rockefellers that will benefit from the auctions to come.
Before Mr. Rockefeller passed away in March, in collaboration with Christie’s he organized a series of auctions that once again proved Rockefeller family’s devout belief in supporting institutions that should “serve society. Alongside of Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Ray Dalio, Mr. Rockefeller was one of the first to agree with the 2010’s Giving Pledge, when some of the world’s wealthiest committed to donating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. It was the late Rockefeller’s wish to share with the world the art and objects he and his wife carefully collected over a lifetime together, and make it an opportunity for continuation of the long legacy of philanthropy by the Rockefeller family.
The fact that it was Christie’s that managed to secure control of the sale is no surprise. The major auction house has held a 20 lease on its New York salesroom at Rockefeller Plaza since 1997. As Christie’s CEO stated, “The Rockefeller family name is indelibly linked with arts, culture, business, and philanthropy around the world—and it is a fitting tribute that the auctions will be held at Christie’s New York in the heart of Rockefeller Center”. The intriguing art collection comprises about 15,000 pieces, and it includes some truly astonishing gems of art. If we would just recall the keen eye David Rockefeller had for art; in 1960 he bought a painting by Mark Rothko for $10,000, in 2007, the piece was sold at auction for staggering $72 million.
Sales over the next year will be divided into several different auctions. The entire series of sales will span more than 2,000 individual works, including Impressionist, post-Impressionist and modern works of art. Even though Christie’s refused to name specific works to be included yet, it is known there will be masterpieces by some of the most prominent American and European artists on display. According to Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, no one had the chance to actually see the collection unless they were in one of the Rockefeller homes, and he added that this will be one of the largest and most important sales ever held. The estimates are in the $700 million range, and it is likely the Rockefeller estate will break the record for most valuable collection ever sold at auction.