Quinn’s appointed to auction Merton D. Simpson estate collection of African tribal art

Merton D. Simpson (1928-2013) with a prized African tribal art acquisition. Archival image provided by the Estate of Merton D. Simpson

Merton D. Simpson (1928-2013) with a prized African tribal art acquisition. Archival image provided by the Estate of Merton D. Simpson


FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Quinn’s Auction Galleries has been chosen to auction the highly important African tribal art collection of renowned dealer, artist and collector Merton D. Simpson (African-American, 1928-2013). The estate collection will be offered in two major sales at Quinn’s northern Virginia gallery, the first to be held on October 1 and the second in late fall or early winter of this year. For both events, absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com.

The New York County Public Administrator, which serves as fiduciary of the Simpson estate, confirmed Quinn’s appointment and said the proceeds will “directly benefit Mr. Simpson’s estate.”

With an acclaimed eye for spotting exceptional art and a career as an art dealer that spanned more than 50 years, Merton D. Simpson was one of the world’s most respected African and tribal art dealers. He was instrumental in helping individuals and institutions around the world to build comprehensive, historically significant collections. He was also a gifted artist in his own right and an early member of the Spiral group, a collective of black artists founded in 1963 by Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff and others.

The 2,000+ pieces to be auctioned consist of artworks and rare tribal relics from Simpson’s personal collection, as well as selections from the New York art gallery he operated, and some of his own works.

With his passion for collecting African art and artifacts, Merton Simpson enlightened the public with an otherwise untapped perspective of a continent with diverse and rich cultures and traditions. The mystery behind some of those traditions was unraveled by Simpson’s uncompromising desire to document and collect art and artifacts that otherwise would have remained obscure.

Quinn’s Executive Vice President Matthew Quinn said Simpson had maintained extensive archives documenting his acquisitions as far back as the 1960s. “It’s one of the most impressive archives of its type that I’ve ever seen,” Quinn said.

“Quinn’s is known for selling entire collections, with care and respect. Because of the historical importance of the Simpson collection, we hired John Buxton of Arttrak to serve as our auction consultant,” Quinn continued. “John has an impeccable reputation as a specialist in his field and will be evaluating each and every item in the two sales.”

Detailed information about the October 1 auction’s contents will be released in September.

Contact Quinn’s Auction Galleries: 703-532-5632, info@quinnsauction.com. Online: www.quinnsauction.com

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