22 world records set at Christie’s Rockefeller auction

Eugene Delacroix, ‘Tiger Playing with a Tortoise.’ Sold for $9,875,000. Image courtesy Christie’s.

NEW YORK (AP) – Twenty-two world records were set at Christie’s $832 million auction of the private art collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. The late couple’s family is donating all proceeds to charity.

The final tally that ended Friday’s sale in New York is about twice the previous record of $484 million from a 2009 Paris sale of designer Yves Saint Laurent’s estate.

Christie’s said all of the more than 1,500 lots had sold, with buyers lured by the Rockefeller name that represented American success.

Prices reached record highs for seven artists and items including a porcelain set and a swan decoy.

The top lot was a Picasso painting of a nude girl holding a basket of flowers that went for $115 million, against a pre-auction estimate of $100 million. A Monet canvas of his famed water lilies sold for $84 million — surpassing the previous $81 million high for the artist.

A Matisse canvas depicting a woman in a Turkish harem went for a record $80.8 million, topping the previous $48.8 million for the artist.

Christie’s bolstered the auction by guaranteeing the whole Rockefeller collection, not disclosing the minimum price at which a work would have to sell or buyers’ names.

A well-known Gilbert Stuart oil portrait of George Washington sold for $11.6 million against an $8 million estimate — the most ever paid for his work.

John Haynes Williams’ whistling swan decoy went for more than $348,000, the most ever for such a decoy and the artist.

A 256-piece Sevres dessert service commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $1.8 million, a world record for 19th-century porcelain that fetched more than six times its high estimate.

All prices include buyers’ premiums.

Peggy Rockefeller died in 1996, and David Rockefeller in 2017, as the last surviving grandson of the oil baron John D. Rockefeller.


By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press

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