The sale of more than 1,500 fine and decorative art objects from the Getty collection realised over $150 million, all of which will benefit the couple’s charity, The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts
An extraordinary series of auctions from the celebrated collection of Ann and Gordon Getty concluded on 25 October, achieving a total in excess of $150 million. Across two weeks and ten auctions — four live, six online — more than 1,500 works of fine and decorative art, jewelry and textiles from the couple’s private collection were 100% sold.
This success ranks The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection among the top three collections of both fine and decorative arts to sell at Christie’s, alongside The Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé and The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller.
‘We are all immensely proud to have overseen a week of sales that has confirmed Ann Getty’s exquisite taste and singular eye for excellence,’ said Jonathan Rendell, Christie’s Deputy Chairman. ‘It is especially gratifying to see the strength in interest across the board from Chinese Works of Art, to English and Continental Furniture, to textiles, table decorations, and handbags. The Getty sales are proof that the market continues to value great connoisseurship and that quality is timeless.’
Kicking off the whirlwind series was the evening sale of Volume 1: Important Pictures and Decorative Arts on Thursday 20 October, which sold 100% of the lots at 128% above the low estimate. The live auction drew nearly 2 million viewers online and achieved a final total of $79,408,900.
Volume 2: Old Master, 19th and 20th Century Paintings took place the next day, Friday 21 October. The sale totalled $33,871,230, 145% above the low estimate. Volume 3: English and European Furniture, Porcelain and Silver followed on Saturday 22 October and realised a final total of $13,408,320, 264% above the low estimate.
The live sales concluded on Sunday 23 October with Volume 4: Chinese Works of Art, English and European Furniture and Decorative Arts. Featuring 176 lots, the sale totalled $12,831,336.
The online auctions also saw great success. Offering nearly 900 lots across six separate sales, they realised a total of more than $10 million. This brought the sale of The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection to a grand total of over $150 million, the proceeds of which will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, dedicated to support arts and science organisations.
Volume 1: Important Pictures and Decorative Arts, Evening Sale
The landmark series of sales was led by Volume 1, which achieved $79,408,900. The sale, which was 100% sold, broke four records and saw strong results across a range of collecting categories.
The top lot of the evening was Mary Cassatt’s Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right. Acquired by the Pola Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan, for $7,489,000, the painting broke a 15-year-old record for the artist. Originally owned by Paul Gauguin, the work depicts a young lady in an opera box and displays Cassatt’s early interest in the theatre of everyday life. Rendered in pastel, gouache and metallic pigment, Cassatt captures the spirit of her subject as well as her beauty.
Other artist records were set by Jacques-Émile Blanche’s Vaslav Nijinsky in ‘Danse Siamoise,’ which achieved $2,700,000 against a low estimate of $1,000,000, and Jules Bastien-Lepage’s Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt, which sold for $2,280,000, more than four times the low estimate. Jean-Antoine Watteau’s drawing Three Head Studies Of A Girl Wearing A Hat set a record for a work on paper by the artist, earning a final price of $3,420,000 against a low estimate of $1,500,000.
Exceptional works of decorative art also generated strong results. In a bidding frenzy that lasted more than six minutes, a pair of massive Chinese cloisonné and champlevé enamel crane-form censers realised $1,620,000, more than 20 times the low estimate.
A royal early George II mahogany china cabinet commissioned from William Vile for Queen Charlotte became the most expensive piece of furniture sold across the series, earning $2,700,000 against a low estimate of $600,000. One of the finest examples of 18th-century English craftsmanship, the cabinet is also one of the few works of English royal furniture still in private hands.
Leading up to the live auction, Christie’s announced the private sale of Venice, the Grand Canal looking East with Santa Maria della Salute by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto. The painting was acquired by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, enabled through a generous donation by Diane B. Wilsey.
Volume 2: Old Master, 19th and 20th Century Paintings, Day Sale
On 21 October, Volume 2 of The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection achieved $33,871,230, 145% above the low estimate. The auction showcased 105 paintings from the Gettys’ home in San Francisco, including Venetian view paintings, Impressionist and 19th-century landscapes, studies of the female form and still lifes.
Leading the sale was Henri Matisse’s Paysage avec cyprès et oliviers aux environs de Nice, a landscape painting that fetched $2,220,000, nearly 15 times its low estimate. Previously owned by Gertrude Stein’s brother Michael and his wife Sarah, the painting exemplifies Matisse’s love of Nice, a city he returned to every winter until his death.
Paul Gauguin’s still life Fleurs et livres and Alfred Sisley’s Moret-sur-Loing au soleil couchant were also stand-outs, each realizing $1,620,000.
Additional highlights included paintings by the British masters Sir Winston Spencer Churchill and John Atkinson Grimshaw. Grimshaw’s Midsummer Night or Iris achieved $680,400 against a low estimate of $150,000, while Interior, the Long Gallery at Sutton Place by Churchill quadrupled its low estimate, selling for $630,000.
Volume 3: English and European Furniture, Porcelain and Silver, Day Sale
The sales continued on 22 October with Volume 3, which featured furniture and decorative arts from the beautifully curated interiors of the couple’s San Francisco residence. The final auction results totalled $13,408,320, 264% against the low estimate.
The sale was led by a set of twelve German painted panels, which sold for $2,280,000, more than 10 times the low estimate of $200,000. The panels were displayed on the walls of the Gettys’ dining room, a theatrical space dedicated to their love of Chinoiserie. They are believed to originate from Schloss Pillnitz, a lavish palace of Saxon ruler Augustus the Strong, a legendary enthusiast of Chinese and Japanese craftsmanship.
The auction demonstrated a keen enthusiasm for the Gettys’ unique items of decorative art. Another top lot was a pair of George II giltwood pier mirrors, which sold for $693,000, more than triple the low estimate of $200,000. A double-sided three-seater sofa that once belonged to the dancer Rudolf Nureyev, a friend of Mrs. Getty’s, sold for $144,900 against a low estimate of $5,000.
There was also a strong appetite for porcelain dinner services, several of which achieved six-figure sums. The top lot of this category was a Belgian porcelain zoological part dinner service that fetched $378,000, over six times the low estimate of $60,000.
Chinese and Japanese export porcelain saw enthusiasm from buyers as well, with some items selling for more than 25 times their low estimate. A pair of Japanese porcelain models of rabbits sold for $226,800, blowing away its low estimate of $5,000, while a pair of Japanese export Arita porcelain models of puppies sold for $189,00 against a low estimate of $7,000.
Volume 4: Chinese Works of Art, English and European Furniture and Decorative Arts, Day Sale
The final live auction concluded on 23 October with 176 works from the more intimate spaces of the couple’s San Francisco residence, including the upstairs bedrooms and library. The sale totalled $12,831,336 and was 100% sold.
The top lots were works of furniture that showcased Mrs. Getty’s discerning eye. A very rare mother-of-pearl-inlaid black lacquer softwood recessed-leg wine table achieved $630,000, more than six times the low estimate of $100,000. A pair of regency calamander, ebonized and parcel-gilt octagonal tables with Italian specimen marble tops sold for $428,400, over five times the low estimate of $80,000.
Mirrors were also in high demand, especially examples of Chinese export artistry. One pair of Chinese export reverse-painted mirrors in George III giltwood frames realised $327,600 against an estimate of $50,000, while another pair of Chinese export reverse-painted mirrors from the Qing Dynasty fetched $178,920, nearly twelve times the low estimate of $15,000.
Offering 900 items across six sales, the online portion of the series saw incredible results. Encompassing Jewelry and Handbags; Chinese and Japanese Works of Art and Textiles; Indian, Ottoman, Global Works of Art and Textiles; The Art of the Table: Ceramics, Silver, and Table Decorations; Decorations, Furniture, Lighting and Objects; and English and European Decorative Arts, the sales totalled more than $10 million.
One particular standout was a pair of mother-of-pearl inlaid doors, which sold for $693,000, 86 times the low estimate of $8,000. The online sales brought the final total for The Collection of Ann & Gordon Getty to over $150 million, all of which will be donated to the couple’s foundation.
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