A $50 Million Matisse From the Rockefeller Estate Is Expected to Break Records in an Epic Charity Auction

A Rose Period Picasso, once belonging to Gertrude Stein, leads the sale at an estimated $70 million.

Henri Matisse, Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923). Photo: courtesy of Christie's.

Touted as the most valuable philanthropic auction ever—all proceeds will be donated to charity—a collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller’s masterworks will tour Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles before hitting the block in New York in the spring of 2018.

Five months after Christie’s announced the sale, an assortment of the works have been made public. Leading the sale is a Rose Period Picasso acquired from Gertrude Stein’s collection (est. $70 million), while Henri Matisse’s Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923), a painting of a reclining nude, is expected to set a new world auction record for the artist at an estimated $50 million. Other highlights include Claude Monet’s Nymphéas en fleur (1914-17) (est. $35 million) and a selection of Chinese art objects.

Prior to Peggy’s death in 1996, and David’s death this past March, the couple pledged to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. In keeping with their philanthropic endeavors during their lifetime, all proceeds from the sale of his estate will go towards cultural, educational, medical, and environmental causes.

Pablo Picasso, Fillette a la corbeille fleurie (1905). Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

With a fortune estimated at $3.3 billion, the late former banker and heir to the Rockefeller fortune, David Rockefeller amassed an array of stunning paintings, which will be sold alongside selected heirlooms inherited from previous generations. Together they make up an eclectic and wide-ranging array of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and Modern art, as well as porcelain, silver, American decorative art, furniture, and more.

Among the Asian works are a Chinese Imperial gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722), estimated at $400,000-600,000, while a rare Chinese decorated blue and white “dragon bowl” (ca. 1426-35) is being offered for between $100,00-150,000.

Claude Monet Nymphéas en fleur (ca. 1914-17). Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

On the other end of the scale, the estate sale also includes more affordable price points—even starting at around $200. These works will appear in a series of dedicated online-only auctions organized around the themes of dining, birds, bugs and beasts, Japan, porcelain, figurines and silverware, and more.

An Imperial Gilt-Bronze Figure of Amitayus China, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Photo: courtesy of Christie’s.

“We look forward to sharing additional highlights of the collection as we proceed with the tour, leading to sales in New York next spring on behalf of the selected charities,” said Marc Porter, Christie’s chairman of the Americas, in a statement.

For the Hong Kong pre-sale exhibition, Christie’s will present works from Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Juan Gris, Paul Signac, Eduouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and more. At each stop of the collection’s tour, new additions will appear and highlights will be accompanied by a program of lectures, forums, and specials client events.


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