It could be the most valuable single-owner art collection ever sold at auction. Before it goes under the hammer, Londoners will have a chance to ogle the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller when it goes on display at Christie’s in St James’s from 21 February – 8 March 2018.
Grandson of Standard Oil founder and America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, David Rockefeller was CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank and a great patron of the arts and charitable foundations. Rockefeller even had the ear of some of the most iconic world leaders and was a confidant of Deng Xiaoping, Nelson Mandela and Henry Kissinger.
Rockefeller married his wife Margaret “Peggy” in 1987 and they had two sons and four daughters. Peggy, a champion of farmland conservation and environmental causes, died in 1996.
During their lifetime, the billionaire philanthropist couple amassed an eye-watering collection of paintings, English and European furniture, American decorative arts and furniture, fine china and jewellery.
Among the 1500 gems to be auctioned by Christie’s New York in May 2018 are Pablo Picasso’s ‘Fillette à la corbeille fleurie’ (1905), Henri Matisse’s ‘Odalisque couchée aux magnolias’ (1923) and Claude Monet’s ‘Extérieure de la gare Saint-Lazare, effet de soleil’ (1877). The Picasso hung on the Rockefeller’s library wall in their home in New York for fifty years and carries an estimated sale price of £50 million.
Christie’s global president, Jussi Pylkkänen, predicts the sale of the Rockefeller collection will surpass the previous record of US$443 million (£358 million) for a single-owner collection. This was set by the sale of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent in 2009.
Rockefeller’s son, David Rockefeller Jnr, is less concerned with setting records and more with increasing the accessibility of his parents’ collection. “What I hope is that a reasonable number of these great works will actually end up in public spaces in museums around the world and be seen by many people”, Rockefeller Jnr told BBC Radio 4 yesterday (19 February 2018).
Proceeds from the sale of David and Peggy’s collection will go to selected charitable causes the couple supported throughout their lives including New York’s Museum of Modern Art.