The Beastie Boys’ Mike D Is Selling His Mom’s Eclectic Art Collection at Auction for as Much as $30 Million

The top lot is a rare Bernini sculpture that could bring in as much as $12 million.

Hester Diamond. Photo by Carla van de Puttelaar.
Hester Diamond in Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World. Photo by Carla van de Puttelaar.

Michael “Mike D” Diamond, of Beastie Boys fame, will sell his mother’s $30 million collection of Old Masters and contemporary art—plus selections from her personal trove of memorabilia from the hip-hop group—at Sotheby’s in New York.

The rapper’s parents, art dealer Harold Diamond and interior designer Hester Diamond, “assembled one of the great postwar collections of modern art in New York,” according to the Financial Times.

“My mom and dad were completely integrated into the New York City contemporary art world before I was born,” Mike D told Bloomberg. “Quite a number of the Rothkos that are sold at Sotheby’s today at some point went through my parents.”

Harold Diamond, who brought the work of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth to the US, died in 1982 at age 56. Hester Diamond died this January, at age 91.

Harold and Hester Diamond with a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth. The couple met the artist during a visit to the UK and arranged her first US museum tour, convincing institutions to purchase her work in exchange for presenting the show. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Harold and Hester Diamond with a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth. The couple met the artist during a visit to the UK and arranged her first US museum tour. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Collecting remained a passion throughout Hester’s life. But after Harold’s passing, she shifted gears, refocusing her efforts on Old Masters while trading the antique decor in her home with contemporary furniture, delighting in the contrast between the two.

“I’m sure there was a long line of people saying: ‘Hester what are you doing? You have this incredible collection, why would you ever switch it up?’” said Mike D. But she had “this complete faith in her own point of view, and [that guided] her collecting with complete fearlessness.”

Hester Diamond went from collecting Modernist masterpieces to Old Masters, and she changed her decor accordingly, trading antiques for contemporary furniture. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Hester Diamond went from collecting Modernist masterpieces to Old Masters, and she changed her decor accordingly, trading antiques for contemporary furniture. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

That ethos inspired the name of the upcoming Sotheby’s sale, “Fearless: The Collection of Hester Diamond,” which will take place in January. The sale will feature 60 lots including Old Masters, contemporary art, contemporary furniture, books, and crystals.

A rare Bernini sculpture, a collaboration between father and son Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is expected to be the lead lot. A rare work by the Baroque masters located in the US, Autumn is estimated to fetch between $8 million to $12 million.

Pietro Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, <em>Autumn</em> (c. 1616), from the collection of Hester Diamond, carries an estimate of $8 million to $12 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pietro Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Autumn (c. 1616), from the collection of Hester Diamond, carries an estimate of $8 million to $12 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Other artists featured in the sale include Old Masters Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Dosso Dossi, as well as contemporary figures Dustin Yellin and Bill Viola.

Hester also cofounded the Medici Archive Project, which has worked to digitize and preserve documents from Florence’s historic Medici family, and VISTAS (short for Virtual Images of Sculpture in Time and Space), which supports scholarship on European sculpture from 1200 to 1800.

The collector was also one of the victims of Lawrence Salander, an art dealer convicted in 2010 of stealing $120 million from clients and investors, including $6 million of her money.

See more works from the sale and photographs of Hester’s apartment below.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, <em>A Triptych: The Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, The Presentation in the Temple</em> (c. 1520) from the collection of Hester Diamond, estimated to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, A Triptych: The Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, The Presentation in the Temple (c. 1520) from the collection of Hester Diamond, estimated to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Jorg Lederer, Saint Sebastian (left), estimated from $600,000 to $1.2 million, and Dustin Yellin, Small Figure No. 48 in Hester Diamond's New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Jorg Lederer, Saint Sebastian (left), estimated from $600,000 to $1.2 million, and Dustin Yellin, Small Figure No. 48 in Hester Diamond’s New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Filippino Lippi, Penitent Mary Magdalene Adoring the True Cross in a Rocky Landscape from the collection of Hester Diamond, estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Filippino Lippi, Penitent Mary Magdalene Adoring the True Cross in a Rocky Landscape from the collection of Hester Diamond, estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

The dining room in Hester Diamond's New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

The dining room in Hester Diamond’s New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero, called Dosso Dossi, The Sicilian Games (top) and The Plague at Pergamea, from a frieze of 10 paintings based on episodes from The Aeneid. The frieze, from the collection of Hester Diamond, is estimated to sell for $3 million to $5 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero, called Dosso Dossi, The Sicilian Games (top) and The Plague at Pergamea, from a frieze of 10 paintings based on episodes from The Aeneid. The frieze, from the collection of Hester Diamond, is estimated to sell for $3 million to $5 million. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Hester Diamond's New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

Hester Diamond’s New York apartment​​​​​​. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics