Rockefeller Mania Continues at Christie’s With a Record $106 Million American Art Sale

artnet News | Eileen Kinsella

Christie’s second consecutive evening sale of the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection, which offered a top-notch selection of art from North and South America, realized $106 million tonight. Soaring past the presale estimate of $45.4 million to $66.75 million, the sale marked the highest total ever achieved for an American art auction. The works on the block ranged from classic Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent landscapes to more Modern wares, including an Alexander Calder sculpture and a vibrant Willem de Kooning abstract. To date, Christie’s dedicated Rockefeller sales have made $764.4 million—and there are three more live sales and a variety of online sales still to come. This evening’s affair was quieter and far less packed than last night’s European art auction, which generated a smashing $646 million total.

Indeed, the entire result for tonight’s sale was less than the amount paid for one Rose Period Picasso painting last night. Nevertheless, the evening was a resounding success on its own merits—even if the category pulls in a more niche crowd. The sale set seven new artist records, including for Gilbert Stuart, Charles Sheeler, and Diego Rivera. Notably, the new high mark for Rivera doubled as the highest price ever achieved for a Latin American artwork at auction. Throughout their decades of collecting, the Rockefellers acquired an eclectic variety of objects, from porcelain to duck decoys to blue-chip art. But Christie’s has placed a big bet that the provenance will attract bidders far and wide. So far, they seem to be right. All 41 lots on offer found buyers—though this in and of itself is not surprising given that Christie’s guaranteed the entire Rockefeller collection, and it is not known where reserves (the undisclosed minimum price at which a work can sell) had been set…read more

Image: Willem de Kooning, Untitled XIX (1982). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.