Oprah and a Record-Breaking Carmen Herrera Painting Help Raise $3.9 Million at Auction for Miss Porter’s School for Girls

The auction set a new record for Carmen Herrera with the $2.9 million sale of "Blanco y Verde."

Carmen Herrera, Blanco y Verde (1966–67) sold for $2.9 million at the Miss Porter's School
Carmen Herrera, Blanco y Verde (1966–67) sold for $2.9 million at the Miss Porter's School's "By Women for Tomorrow's Women" benefit auction at Sotheby's New York, a world record for the artist. Courtesy of Sotheby's New York.

Carmen Herrera, a living legend at 103 years old, led the way at Sotheby’s “By Women for Tomorrow’s Women” auction benefiting Connecticut all-girls boarding school Miss Porter’s. Her $2.9 million canvas Blanco y Verde (1966–67) was the top lot at today’s white-glove auction of work by exclusively women artists. It also set a new record for a work by the Cuban-American artist.

“Miss Porter’s School and our alumnae have long championed the important, and often overlooked, contributions of women artists,” said Katherine Windsor, Miss Porter’s head of school, in a statement. The auction honors the institution’s 175th anniversary and will help fund financial aid for students.

In total, the 26 works up for auction, all of which sold, brought in $3.9 million, well over the combined presale estimate of $2.1 million–2.8 million. The Herrera, which was expected to bring in no more than $2 million, made up a vast majority of the total.

According to the artnet Price Database, Herrera’s record previously stood at $2.6 million, set at Phillips New York in November with the sale of a 1966 painting of the same name. She worked on her powerful yet minimal “Blanco y Verde” series, considered her most significant body of work, from 1959 to 1971.

Miss Porter's School head Katherine Windsor, Agnes Gund, and Oprah Winfrey at the "By Women, for Tomorrow's Women" pre-sale celebration. Photo by Ben Rosser, courtesy of BFA.

Miss Porter’s School head Katherine Windsor, Agnes Gund, and Oprah Winfrey at the “By Women, for Tomorrow’s Women” pre-sale celebration. Photo by Ben Rosser, courtesy of BFA.

The sale, which featured works by Pat Steir, Cecily Brown, Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems, and Katharina Grosse, among others, also saw new auction records set for Jane Hammond, Mariana Cook, Lily Stockman, and Miss Porter’s School alumna Katherine Bradford.

The Herrera painting was previously included in “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight,” the artist’s 2017 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It was donated to the sale by philanthropist Agnes Gund, a 1956 graduate of the school who had owned the painting since 2006.

Miss Porter's School head Katherine Windsor, Agnes Gund, and Oprah Winfrey at the "By Women, for Tomorrow's Women" pre-sale celebration. Photo by Ben Rosser, courtesy of BFA.

Miss Porter’s School head Katherine Windsor, Agnes Gund, and Oprah Winfrey at the “By Women, for Tomorrow’s Women” pre-sale celebration. Photo by Ben Rosser, courtesy of BFA.

The auction was boosted by a swanky preview event this Tuesday featuring media mogul Oprah Winfrey, a longtime supporter of the institution, and Gund. Both women served as honorary co-chairs of the sale, which marked the first time a major auction house has held a benefit auction featuring only female artists.

An additional 17 lots are still available for purchase through March 7 in an additional online sale. Altogether, the auction includes 43 works by 41 women artists.


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