Pioneering $50 mn art collection up for auction in NY

13th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

The art collection of pioneering gallerist Ileana Sonnabend and her daughter goes on auction in New York next month, valued at $50 million and featuring some of the finest 20th century artists.

Auctioneers Christie's said it had acquired the Sonnabend collection and the estate of her daughter Nina Sundell, which would be offered for sale as 88 lots on May 13-14.

Born in Bucharest in 1914, Sonnabend and her first husband Leo Castelli moved first to Paris and then fled to New York to escape growing anti-Semitism and the outbreak of World War II.

She immersed herself in the post-war cultural scene, befriending figures such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

Together with second husband Michael Sonnabend, she moved back to Paris in the 1960s, where they set up the Galerie Sonnabend to introduce Europe to American abstract expressionist art.

In 1970 they reversed the experience, moving back to New York and used their gallery to introduce American audiences to a new generation of European artists, fostering some of the most innovative, challenging and promising artists of the day.

Her private collection, which has never before been on the market, includes works by US pop artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and contemporary artist Jeff Koons, Christie's said.

"Many of Sonnabend's exhibitions helped determine the course of art history in the late 20th Century," said Laura Paulson, Christie's chairman for post-war and contemporary art.

"She discovered and promoted some of the most significant artists of her time," Paulson said.

Koons, whom Sonnabend championed in the 1980s, is today one of the world's highest paid artists.

"It wasn't about money or the gallery," Christie's quoted him as saying of Sonnabend.

"It was about the work."


© 2015 AFP

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