David Bowie’s art collection will go to auction

The family of David Bowie says a lack of space is forcing it to sell off the late musician’s prized art collection, the BBC reports.

Around 400 items including 267 paintings, more than 120 items of furniture and sculpture will be auctioned at Sotheby’s London on 10 and 11 November in the three-part “Bowie/Collector” sale. Prior to the auction, the public will have a chance to view the works on display at Sotheby’s London for the first time ever. 

Several of the works are by 20th Century British artists including Patrick Caulfield, Stanley Spencer and Peter Lanyon. There are also pieces by Damien Hirst, Marcel Duchamp, Henry Moore, works of contemporary African art and by self-taught artists from Vienna’s Gugging institution. The entire consignment has an estimated value of over £10 million with the top lot expected to be Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting ‘Air Power’ (1984), which carries an estimate of £2.5-3.5 million.

Until now, little was known about Bowie’s life as an art collector. Artist and writer, Matthew Collings, says he kept his collection private so as not to appear pretentious. “I think he was an absolutely genuinely enthusiastic collector who didn’t collect to be swanky or to big himself up,” Collings stated.

Bowie is said to have collected according to his personal response to each artist and their work rather than their investment value. According to Collings, Bowie “really collected because he had a use for that work and it was a personal use. He looked at those things and they changed his state of being.”

A rock superstar, Bowie was drawn to the art world. He attended art school and joined the editorial board of quarterly arts magazine, Modern Painters, in 1994. In 1998, Bowie launched “21”, an independent art book publishing company. There, he was responsible for staging one of the most famous art hoaxes in history. He hosted a glamorous party at Jeff Koons’ studio in Manhattan to launch a book celebrating the life and art of an artist, Nat Tate, entirely invented by novelist William Boyd.

“Bowie/Collector” will be displayed between 1-10 November at Sotheby’s London’s New Bond Street Galleries. The London Highlights Preview Exhibition can be viewed between 20 July-9 August at Sotheby’s George Street gallery.


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