The Macklowe collection, the artwork at the center of a high-profile divorce case, has sold at auction for just shy of $1 billion.
Harry and Linda Macklowe married in 1959, and for nearly 60 years lived an extremely affluent lifestyle together. They had a $72 million apartment in New York City, a yacht, dozens of commercial properties including skyscrapers, and an art collection.
They began the collection together shortly after they were married. By the time of their acrimonious and painfully public divorce in 2016, the collection was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the two spent three years fighting in court over how to split it equitably. Finally in 2019, after the ex-couple couldn’t agree on valuations and appraisals, a judge ordered that 65 of the most valuable works be sold at auction, and the proceeds divided.
A forced sale was precisely what the art world was hoping for, and its delay during the pandemic only served to build up hype. Sotheby’s auction house, in charge of brokering the sales, decided to split the collection across two auction seasons, so concentrations of work by the same artist would be spaced out.
The first auction, in November 2021, generated $676 million. The second, held on Monday, brought in a further $246.1 million for a totally of $922 million dollars. The Macklowe collection surpasses the previous record for a single-owner collection, set in 2018 by the sale of the 44-piece Rockefeller estate collection, by over $100 million.
The top sale of Monday’s auction was Mark Rothko’s moody abstract Untitled (1960), which went for $48 million. One of the lowest sales was also among the strangest – a porcelain sculpture by Jeff Koons, of a Popple. Yes, the popular toy from the late 80s. It went for a mere $3.9 million.
At the November auction, the top seller was another Rothko abstract, this one the sunny painting “No. 7” which sold for $82.5 million, closely followed by the macabre sculpture “Le Nez” by Alberto Giacometti at $78.4 million.
Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock