Revealed: This Season’s Auction Consignors, from Influential Financiers to a Storied Gallerist

Major pieces by Joan Mitchell, Frank Stella, and Julie Mehretu are headed to the block next week. The Art Detective knows who is sending them there.

A viewer looks at Frank Stella's "Ifafa I" (1964) at Sotheby's in New York. Photo: Katya Kazakina

It’s that time of year again. Another big auction season is upon us in New York, although this one feels slimmer than usual, without major collections, estates, or spectacularly expensive masterpieces. As a result, the houses had to put together these sales virtually lot by lot. Given the art market’s decline in the face of persistently high interest rates and geopolitical unrest, sellers at the very top end of the market seemed reluctant to consign. Next week’s sales carry the low estimate of $1.2 billion, down 8 percent from the same series of auctions a year ago.

The auction houses identified some sellers. I’ve written a lot about the Miami-based Rosa de la Cruz Collection at Christie’s. At Sotheby’s, Dallas’s Howard Rachofsky is parting with a yolk-colored, egg-shaped canvas by Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (1964), estimated at $20 million to $30 million. Rachofsky stands to make a substantial profit, having bought it for $2.3 million at Sotheby’s London in 2003. (Another punctured yellow “egg” canvas by Fontana that sold for $29.2 million in 2015 holds the Italian artist’s auction record.)

As always, most sellers are anonymous. I have previously reported that Christie’s Brice Marden was consigned by the reclusive collector Richard Schlagman. Estimated at $30 million to $50 million, Event (2004–07) is part of a number of “Abstract Masterworks from a Distinguished Private Collection.” That designation accompanies several lower-value paintings by Vija Celmins, Robert Mangold, and Tomma Abts.

Below are some of the major anonymous consignors, who might otherwise have flown under the radar. As is standard practice, the auction houses declined to comment on the identity of clients.

Greg Renker

Joan Mitchell, Noon (1969). Image via Sotheby's.

Joan Mitchell, Noon (1969). Courtesy: Sotheby’s.

Greg Renker, a cofounder of Guthy-Renker, a direct-marketing company of beauty and health products, is the anonymous consignor of a quartet of Joan Mitchell’s paintings at Sotheby’s. Designated as “Four Decades of Joan Mitchell: Property from an Esteemed Private Collection,” the group carries the estimate of $36 million to $51.5 million. Sotheby’s guaranteed the four paintings, and secured irrevocable bids for two of them. The priciest of the group is Noon (1969), estimated at $15 million to $20 million. (The artist’s record, $29.2 million, was set in November with an untitled 1958 painting at Christie’s.) Renker bought Noon for $9.8 million at Christie’s in 2016, according to the lot’s provenance listing. He acquired another, Ground (1989), from Edward Tyler Nahem gallery in 2007. At the time, it was priced between $3 million and $4 million. It’s now estimated at $12 million to $18 million.

Dow Kim

A color photo shows a painting of a dark blue cave hanging on a white wall with a wood floor

Nicolas Party, Grotto (2019). Courtesy: Christie’s.

Philanthropist and banker Dow Kim is the anonymous seller of Nicolas Party’s 2019 painting Grotto. Estimated at $2 million to $3 million, it’s slated for Christie’s 21st-century evening sale on May 14. In March 2022, Kim made an Instagram post about the 6-foot-tall painting’s delivery. Now its image is prominently displayed in the auction house’s front windows at Rockefeller Center, along with other top highlights. Fourteen paintings by the popular Swiss artist have fetched more than $2 million since 2021, according to the Artnet Price Database, and his auction record of $6.7 million belongs to the 2018 painting Blue Sunset it was set at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2022. Kim has been a frequent seller lately. In October, he sold a painting by George Condo for £1.85 million (about $2.3 million) at Christie’s in London, Colin Gleadell reported. Next week, he’s also parting with Maria Berrio’s La Cena (2012), as we have reported in our weekly market newsletter, “The Back Room.”

Lorenzo Fertitta

A geometric abstract painting

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #126. Courtesy: Sotheby’s

In 2018, a monumental painting from Richard Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” series, named after his studio in the Santa Monica canyon, fetched $23.9 million at Christie’s as part of the collection of David and Barbara Zucker. The price, which remains the postwar artist’s auction record, will be tested next week, when Ocean Park #126 returns to the auction block, estimated at $18 million to $25 million at Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale on May 13. The painting is being sold anonymously by billionaire collector Lorenzo Fertitta, according to people familiar with the work. The consignor bought the work at the Zucker auction, according to Christie’s provenance. Fertitta regularly buys and sells at auction (two years ago, he sold Basquiat’s Sugar Ray Robinson, 1982, for $32.7 million). Next week, he’s also the consignor of a 1984 Warhol-Basquiat collaboration, estimated at $15 million to $20 million at Sotheby’s, according to people familiar with that work. Both lots are described as “Property from a Private American Collection.” Fertitta acquired the piece for $2.6 million at Sotheby’s in 2010, according to the provenance, which doesn’t mention him by name.

Glenn Fuhrman

A color photo shows an abstract, intricate painting on a white wall above a wood floor.

Julie Mehretu, Fever graph (algorithm for serendipity), 2013. Courtesy: Christie’s

If you were perusing art accounts on Instagram earlier this week, it is possible that you caught a glimpse of financier Glenn Fuhrman’s art collection. In the background of a photo of Fuhrman’s wife, Amanda Fuhrman, wearing a heavenly Prabal Gurung gown for the Met Gala, I spotted a gorgeous Cy Twombly painting. Not too long before the big night, though, another longtime trophy painting from the Fuhrman collection departed for Christie’s. Julie Mehretu’s 2013 Fever graph (algorithm for serendipity), which the collector and Flag Art Foundation founder bought brand new from Marian Goodman gallery, is estimated at $4 million to $6 million in the house’s evening sale of 21st-century art on May 14. The work is being offered anonymously, but back in September 2019, it was included in the exhibition “Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art Now” at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it was identified as a loan from the “collection of Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman.”

Anita and Poju Zabludowicz

A photo of a painting shows black-and-white digital figures engaged in a kind of concert.

Avery Singer, Happening, 2014. Courtesy Sotheby’s.


London collectors Anita and Poju Zabludowicz are the consignors of Avery Singer’s large-scale painting Happening to Sotheby’s “Now” sale on May 13. The 2014 work, whose digitally inflected figurative style suggests pixellated claymation, is estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million. The Zabludowiczs, who closed their influential foundation late last year, were listed as lenders of the work to Singer’s solo shows at the Kunsthalle Zürich and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy, in 2014 and 2015. Since then, the artist joined the Hauser and Wirth gallery, and her have prices soared. Her auction record of $5.3 million was set two years ago, also at Sotheby’s, for a painting of the same title, size, year, and even estimate—though, thankfully, it was a different image! This result will provide a clear indication of the state of the ultra-contemporary segment of the art market.

Andy Stone

A color photo shows a square painting with human forms and text

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet, 1982. Courtesy: Christie’s.

The classic 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet has come to Christie’s from the collection of financier Andy Stone, the managing partner and CEO of Petra Capital Management. The work, whose stretcher bars protrude at its corners, features some of Basquiat’s most iconic imagery—a boxer, a crown, a detached arm, crossed-out words and numbers. It was included in the artist’s first posthumous retrospective, at the Whitney Museum in 1992, and has not been seen in public for nearly 20 years, according to Christie’s. Its $30 million estimate makes it the second-priciest of 13 works by Basquiat that are being offered for sale at New York auctions next week, not counting collaborations be made with his friend Andy Warhol.

Adam Singer

an abstract painting

Jadé Fadojutimi, The Luxury of Single Cell Organisms (2019). Courtesy: Christie’s

Museum patron Adam Singer is selling Jade Fadojutimi’s painting, The Luxury of Single Cell Organisms (2019) at Christie’s day sale on May 17. He acquired the work from Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London, who required collectors to buy two artworks. One would go to a museum, another remain in their collection. (Such deals are known in the industry as BOGO, or Buy One Give One). In fact, Singer did buy another Fadojutimi painting, titled This is a more elaborate suture (2020) for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, where he’s a trustee. The museum acknowledged the work as “Gift of Iris and Adam Singer, 2021,” according to the gallery’s website. Singer also posted on Instagram about getting the painting. Christie’s estimated Singer’s Fadojutimi at $400,000 to $600,000.

Irving Blum

golden v-shaped canvas by Frank Stella

Frank Stella, Ifafa I (1964). Courtesy: Sotheby’s

The legendary art dealer Irving Blum, who ran Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in the 1950s and ’60s, where he was first to show Andy Warhol on the West Coast, consigned Frank Stella’s Ifafa I to Sotheby’s. Estimated at $14 million to $18 million, the work consists of two connected, golden V-shaped canvases (one right side up, another upside down). It is part of the seminal suite of nine monumental Notched V shaped canvases that Stella created between 1964 and 1965, according to the auction house. Blum acquired Ifafa I in 1964, the year it was made, according to the provenance. Stella died last week at 87. His auction record is $28.1 million for the 1959 painting Point of Pines.

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.