Ann and Gordon Getty’s Magnificent Collection Returns for Another Auction at Christie’s With Major Blockbuster Potential
The contents of the couple's opulent Temple of Wings home in California will head to auction June 14.
The second installment of an auction of artwork and furnishings belonging to Ann and Gordon Getty is set to take place June 14 at Christie’s New York, following a blockbuster first installment last October.
The sale features art and objects from the Getty family’s stunning Temple of Wings home in Berkeley, California. The opulent Greco-Roman style estate was originally built for dancer and arts patron Florence Treadwell Boynton in 1910 by Bernard Maybeck. The architect, who practiced in the Arts and Crafts style, was inspired by the work of ancient Greek architect Ictinus, who co-designed the Parthenon.
Temple of Wings was acquired by the Gettys in 1994 and, under Ann Getty’s stewardship, the home was furnished with decorative arts and furniture based on the eclecticism of late 19th- and early 20th-century design in Europe and America. “Ann Getty fell in love with the atmosphere of Temple of Wings,” Jonathan Rendell, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Americas, told Artnet News. “It was a magical place.”
“Her vision for the house was very different from that used for the main house in San Francisco,” he added. “She assembled groups concentrating on Arts and Crafts, Classical Revival, Tiffany Studios, and Art Pottery, together with related textiles and paintings.”
Among the collection highlights is Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s painting A Coign of Vantage (1895), in which three young women and a bronze sphinx gaze down upon the Bay of Naples from a marble perch—an idealized vision of ancient Rome. It is considered one of the popular Victorian artist’s finest works, anchoring the Temple of Wings collection. The piece is estimated to fetch between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
The sale includes an extensive array of Tiffany Studios glassworks such as the Wisteria table lamp ($400,000–$600,000) and the Butterfly table lamp ($300,000–$500,000)—iconic examples of the American Art Nouveau style. Victorian Gothic Revival furniture, too, features prominently in the sale, including an oak reading stand purchased at the 1851 Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace.
Ann Getty’s love of textiles is evident in several rugs that appear in the sale, especially the hand-knotted Hammersmith rug ($70,000–$100,000) by designer and poet William Morris, one of the most significant members of the British Arts and Crafts movement.
Before she died in 2020, Ann Getty was a major philanthropist and patron of the arts who sat on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, and the New York Public Library. She also contributed to institutions such as the University of California Berkeley, the San Francisco Symphony, and the San Francisco Opera. Prior to marrying Gordon Getty in 1964, she was a paleoanthropologist and fellow of the Leakey Foundation who worked on archaeological digs in Turkey and Ethiopia.
Gordon Getty, son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, whose trust helped establish the Getty Center in Santa Monica, remains an arts patron, as well as a classical music composer. The Getty collection of 1,500 works of art, furniture, jewelry, and textiles fetched more than $79 million in the first part of the sale last year, with proceeds benefiting the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts. Earnings from the second iteration of the auction will benefit arts and science organizations selected by the Getty family.
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