Christie’s Lands the Coveted Art Collection of Late Philanthropist Anne Bass, Which Could Fetch $250 Million in May

Twelve artworks will make up a dedicated sale the week of May 9 in New York.

The interior of Anne H. Bass's New York City Home, with artworks by Mark Rothko and Claude Monet. © 2022 Visko Hatfield.
The interior of Anne H. Bass's New York City Home, with artworks by Mark Rothko and Claude Monet. © 2022 Visko Hatfield. Courtesy of Christie's.

When the philanthropist Anne H. Bass passed away in 2020, she left behind an enviable collection of 19th- and 20th-century masterworks. 

Now, a dozen of those paintings and sculptures—including prized pieces by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and Mark Rothko—are set to hit the auction block at Christie’s. Altogether, they’re expected to bring in a staggering $250 million.

Christie’s will hold a dedicated sale of the Bass collection the week of May 9, during the auction house’s marquee spring New York sales. (The specific date and time of the event has not yet been announced.)

Topping the sale is a pair of red Rothkos: Untitled (Shades of Red) (1961), which is guaranteed to sell with an estimate of $60 million to $80 million, and No. 1 (1962), estimated to go for $45 million to $65 million. Not far behind, price-wise, is a trio of Monets: Le Parlement, soleil couchant (1903), expected to go for $40 million to 60 million; Nymphéas (1907), estimated $35 million to $55 million; and Peupliers au bord de l’Epte (1891), which is predicted to sell for $30 million to $50 million.

 

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Another artist represented thrice in the sale is Degas, whose famed portraits of ballet dancers resonated with Bass, a lifelong dancer herself and a major supporter of the New York City Ballet. A 40–inch-tall bronze sculpture of a ballerina, Petite danseuse de quatorze ans (1927), is estimated at $20 million to $30 million, while two paintings by the French artist are priced at $4 million to $6 million and $1.2 million to $1.8 million.

Each of these artworks, and the four others that make up the sale, came directly from Bass’s elegant, Mark Hampton-designed Fifth Avenue home. They were consigned by the collector’s two daughters, Hyatt and Samantha Bass.

The collection will go head to head with the final chapter of the coveted Macklowe trove, which will go under the hammer this season at Sotheby’s for an expected $300 million.

“As a collector, Anne Bass was timeless,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st century art, in a statement. “Truly passionate about art in all of its forms, she not only appreciated beautiful objects, but she lived with them. These paintings and sculptures were more than just possessions to Mrs. Bass, they were part of her home and her day-to-day life.”

The interior of Anne H. Bass's New York City Home, with artworks by Balthus, Mark Rothko, and Edgar Degas. © Steve Freihon. Courtesy of Christie's.

The interior of Anne H. Bass’s New York City Home, with artworks by Balthus, Mark Rothko, and Edgar Degas. © Steve Freihon. Courtesy of Christie’s.

A prominent member of the haut monde for much of her life, Bass nevertheless cultivated an air of privacy. (She once agreed to talk to a Texas Monthly reporter on the precondition that he not ask “anything personal.”)

She married her husband, the Texas oil tycoon Sid Richardson Bass, in 1965 and the two settled in Fort Worth for 15 years before moving to New York. The couple separated in the late ‘80s, leaving Anne with what was, at the time, the biggest divorce settlement in Texas history, adding up to roughly $200 million.

Bass died at age 79 in 2020 after a long illness.


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