The Collection of ‘Ghostbusters’ Director Ivan Reitman Heads to Christie’s, Led By a Rare Picasso Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter

'Femme endormie' is estimated at $25 million to $35 million.

Pablo Picasso, 
Femme endormie
 Painted in Boisgeloup on 17 July 1934
. Image courtesy Christie's.

Who you gonna call (with a major consignment this fall)? Not the Ghostbusters, actually. Christie’s!

The auction house has just announced it will sell the collection of the late filmmaker Ivan Reitman, whose hits over a four-decade career include Meatballs, Animal House, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Legal Eagles, Dave, and Old School.

Part of the collection, which is being billed as “Ivan and Genevieve Reitman: A Life in Pictures,” will be offered as part of Christie’s evening sale on November 9, led by a rare 1934 Picasso portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme endormie, that is estimated at $25 million to $35 million. In all, ten works from Reitman’s collection, which formerly hung in the Robert AM Stern-designed home he shared with his family in Montecito, Calif., will hit the block.

The other nine works come from masters of the European avant-garde, Abstract Expressionism, and contemporary classics—with examples by Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Loie Hollowell, Brice Marden, Richard Diebenkorn, Agnes Martin, Joan Snyder, and Saul Steinberg. Additional works will be sold during the week’s postwar and contemporary day sale and in future sales.

In total, the collection is expected to achieve in excess of $60 million. A representative for Christie’s confirmed that the collection is guaranteed.

Reitman family living room at their Montecito House. Image courtesy Christie's.

Reitman family living room at their Montecito House. Image courtesy Christie’s.

“The collection is really interesting and personally reflective of who Reitman was and how he lived,” Johanna Flaum, Christie’s vice chairman of 20th and 21st Century art, said in a phone interview with Artnet. “He was the ultimate creative, and he often spoke about this lifelong pursuit of a magical life, and was always looking for humor, wit, and optimism.”

Reitman was already seeing great success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including of course with his most famous film, Ghostbusters. It was in the mid-1980s when directing Legal Eagles (1986)—with Robert Redford, Debra Winger, and Darryl Hannah—that Reitman was introduced to Pace founder and veteran dealer Arne Glimcher.

Glimcher eventually became an associate producer on the film, which is set in the New York art world, after the dealer was initially brought on to advise on how make the representation true to form. This played out in scenes filmed at Sotheby’s York Avenue auction rooms, the 57th Street “Taft Gallery,” as well as at classic 1980s Tribeca lofts and the surrounding neighborhood.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled III (1984). Image courtesy Christie's.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled III (1984). Image courtesy Christie’s.

Around this time, Reitman became more interested in and started collecting art. And he and Glimcher formed a lifelong friendship.

Reitman was also actively buying art up until his death in early 2022. That is reflected in the inclusion of an artwork by Hollowell—a younger, sought-after painter, known for her abstract biomorphic pieces that suggest spirituality and sexuality, and who Pace Gallery has tirelessly championed in recent years—in the sale.

“If Picasso is one end of the collecting category, the Hollowell anchors the other end of the sector,” Flaum said. The collection “is really modernism though to contemporary with a real emphasis on abstraction,” she said.

Brice Marden, Nevis Night Drawing 3 (2018). Image courtesy Christie's.

Brice Marden, Nevis Night Drawing 3 (2018). Image courtesy Christie’s.

Will the collection bring a wider audience or new demographic through Christie’s doors?

“It’s something we talked about early on,” Flaum said. “We are always talking about the next generation of collectors and its an interesting way to engage perhaps a wider audience.”

Reitman’s films touched many generations, from Animal House to Space Jam and beyond. In recent years he worked with his son, Jason Reitman, on the reboot of Ghostbusters, decades after the original.

And let’s not forget the many New York-centric moments in films like Legal Eagles and Ghostbusters. In the latter, an extended scene takes place at Rockefeller Center, currently home to Christie’s New York headquarters, where the sale will be held.

“There is a nice tie-in that a scene takes place in Rockefeller Center and the collection is coming back here,” Flaum said.

Before hitting the auction block in November, the Reitman collection works will go on a world exhibition tour including to Hong Kong (October 4 – 6), Los Angeles (October 16-19), and Paris (October 17-20).

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