The Art Collection of Walt Disney’s Daughter Could Bring in $14 Million at Christie’s Beginning This Week

The collection of Ron and Diane Disney Miller features Diebenkorn, Matisse, Wyeth, Thiebaud, and more.

Wayne Thiebaud, Mickey Mouse (1988). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

The much-anticipated launch of Disney+ isn’t the only reminder of Walt Disney’s vast and lasting cultural legacy this week. The art collection of Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, is also in the news for its impressive auction estimates: Christie’s says the Ron and Diane Disney Miller collection is expected to bring in about $14 million for its 40 lots, which will be offered across a series of sales, including the postwar and contemporary art sales this week.

Diane Disney Miller, who passed away in 2013, wasn’t much for the limelight, instead devoting herself to developing her vineyards in Napa Valley. But she made a big impact on the arts, particularly with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Napa’s Music in the Vineyards, which she funded. Ron Miller, her husband—who passed away in February of this year–was a former pro football player for the Los Angeles Rams, and President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company from 1978 to 1984. 

The collection features a major work from Los Angeles abstract painter Richard Diebenkorn’s famed “Ocean Park” series. His Ocean Park #108 (1979) bears an estimate of $7 million to $9 million. The connection between the Disneys and Diebenkorn goes beyond their shared association with Southern California’s idyllic lure. According to the auction house, Diebenkorn worked with Disney animators during World War II as a cartographer. 

Ron and Diane Disney Miller in 2009. Photo: Drew Alitzer via Getty Images.

Ron and Diane Disney Miller in 2009. Photo: Drew Alitzer via Getty Images.

Also included in the auction are works by Henri Matisse, Winslow Homer, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as a major tempera painting by Andrew Wyeth expected to fetch between $3-5 million. For those looking for a direct link to Disney magic, there’s a piece by Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud depicting Walt’s most famous creation, Mickey Mouse. Christie’s says the sale of the Thiebaud (estimated at between $400,000 and $600,000) will go toward funding the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. 

Portions of the sale of other works will be go to the Jane Goodall Institute, the HALO Trust, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The latter orchestra’s home is in the Walt Disney Concert Hall built by Frank Gehry in downtown Los Angeles; Lilian B. Disney, Diane Disney Miller’s mother, gave the initial $50 million donation to help erect it. The concert hall also houses the legacy of Walt’s brother Roy O. Disney’s philanthropic efforts in the arts: REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) performance space and gallery.

“Ron and Diane Disney Miller’s lifelong passion for the arts is exemplified by their extraordinary collection that extends across categories,” says Barrett White, head of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art in the Americas, in a statement. “Diane’s close relationship with her storied father, Walt Disney, is evident in her keen eye as a collector and her dedication to philanthropic causes. This sale carries on Disney Miller’s rich legacy with proceeds benefiting the couple’s namesake fund and the charitable organizations that were so near to their hearts.”

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