Late Condé Nast Tycoon S.I. Newhouse’s Collection Is Headed to Christie’s—and His Jeff Koons ‘Rabbit’ Could Break the Artist’s Auction Record

The blockbuster sale also includes important works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Warhol.

Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1986). Courtesy of Christie's.
Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1986). Courtesy of Christie's.

Christie’s could topple Jeff Koons‘s $58.4 million auction record—the second-highest recorded sale for a living artist (after David Hockney)—this spring with its blockbuster sale of works from the collection of the late publishing magnate S.I. Newhouse.

“Masterpieces from The Collection of S.I. Newhouse” will be spread across two nights during the auction house’s “20th Century Week” in May, first during its Impressionist and modern evening sale on May 13 and then its post-war and contemporary evening sale on May 15. It features 11 major works, including Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits (1888-90), estimated at $40 million, and Andy Warhol’s Little Electric Chair, (1964-65), estimated at $7 million.

Koon’s sculpture Rabbit (1986) is expected to be the top lot with an estimate of $50-70 million, giving it a reasonable chance to break the artist’s previous high of $58.4 million.

Paul Cezanne, Bouilloire et fruits (1888-90). Courtesy of Christie’s.

“For me, Rabbit is the anti-David,” says Alex Rotter, chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, in a statement. “It signaled the death of traditional sculpture and disrupted the medium in the same way that Jackson Pollock’s Number 31 permanently redefined the notion of painting. From my first day in the auction world, this was the work I fantasized about handling.”

Newhouse, who died in 2017, was recognized as one of the country’s premier art collectors. The heir of Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr., founder of the umbrella media empire Advance Publications, S.I. oversaw Condé Nast’s glossy magazine division, which included titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, while his brother Donald took over the newspapers.

Publisher S.I. Newhouse, Jr., at the Condé Nast building in New York City, 1989. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage.

Regularly ranked among the 50 wealthiest people in America, Newhouse was estimated to be worth upwards of $9 billion toward the end of his life. His collection included works by Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, among many others. In 1988, he was responsible for setting what was then a record price for a living artist at auction, dropping $17 million for a Jasper Johns painting,

“The collection of S.I. Newhouse is one of the most sought-after groupings of art in private hands,” Rotter said. “This is due entirely to the passion that Mr. Newhouse had for brilliance, whether that be found within the art that he collected or the magazines that he published.”


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