As the Auction-House Race for Estates Continues, Sotheby’s Wins 26 Blue-Chip Treasures From the Anderson Collection Worth $55 Million
The works, which will be auctioned in May, include pieces by Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, and Clyfford Still.
The prestigious blue-chip collection of California connoisseurs Harry and Margaret Anderson (affectionately known to friends as “Hunk” and “Moo”) has been making headlines for the past decade, beginning in 2011 when the couple announced a donation of 121 major artworks to Stanford University. A custom-built museum, housing what is one of the largest and most valuable gifts in the school’s history, opened on the campus in 2014.
In late 2018, following the death of Harry Anderson, Christie’s landed a consignment of roughly 200 pieces from the collection, pulling in $49.9 million at auction. Now, another slew of works owned by the Andersons is coming on the block—this time around with Sotheby’s, which has secured a blockbuster consignment of 26 artworks expected to realize more than $55 million.
The highlights include a major Clyfford Still painting, 1947-Y-No.1, which is expected to sell for $25 million to $35 million, and Richard Diebenkorn’s View from the Porch (1959), for which Sotheby’s will release a presale estimate shortly.
The consignment also includes an important group of works on paper, led by Mark Rothko’s Green, Blue, Green (1969), which has an estimate of $7 million to $10 million. And Rothko’s untitled Surrealist-style drawing from 1945 is also among the offerings with a presale estimate to be set soon.
The works will be offered at Sotheby’s evening and day contemporary art auctions in New York this May. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s will hold a dedicated preview exhibition of the works at its York Avenue headquarters from February 27 through March 5. Select highlights will also travel to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London before returning to New York for the May sales.
Sotheby’s did not offer a guarantee to secure the collection and there is little information available to suggest why the family switched houses, having worked with Christie’s for the previous sale.
Harry Anderson founded the food-service company Saga Corporate during his senior year in college. He and Mary moved to the Bay Area with their daughter Patricia in 1962 to establish the national headquarters for the company in Menlo Park. In the mid-1960s, during a visit to Paris, and particularly inspired by visits to the Louvre, the two became intrigued by French Impressionist painters. They began collecting, eventually moving on to a fondness for postwar American art: the Abstract Expressionists, as well as Color Field painters and the Bay Area Figuration movement.
“We are honored to be entrusted with works from the collection,” said Lisa Dennison, chairman of Sotheby’s Americas. The collection “represents a remarkable family legacy….Their sense of responsibility toward community and education, in addition to their camaraderie with artists, was the impetus behind transformational gifts to Stanford University, and many other public institutions.”
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