Since George Michael’s death in 2016, his strong legacy has long been associated with his groundbreaking musical career. While this will certainly continue to be the case, his legacy in the arts will take equal importance in the next few weeks as his vast art collection is going up for auction in London with Christie’s.
The auction house made the announcement last week and confirmed that the musician’s impressive collection includes works by some of Britain’s most sought-after contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas as well as other members of the “Young British Artists” generation who shook up the UK’s creative scene in the 80’s and 90’s.
Michael exploded in popularity in the 1980’s with pop duo Wham! and went on to sell over 100 million albums worldwide. He died on Christmas day in 2016 at age 53 due to heart disease and poor liver health.
Cristian Albu, co-head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s put it simply by referring to the collection as “a portrait of Britain in the 90’s.”
He also said that Michael wanted “to celebrate a time in which new life was breathed into London”, and that prompted him to acquiring works by artists who became close friends. One artist that Michael was particularly close with is Tracey Emin, whom Albu says introduced him to “the whole gang… he was going to their studios and they were coming to his concerts.”
In total, more than 200 works will be up for auction, including Damien Hirst’s The Incomplete Truth, a glass case with a dove preserved in formaldehyde inside. The piece has an estimate price of £1-1.5 million.
A few pieces by Tracey Emin are also up for sale including Hurricane and an embroidered blanket carrying an estimate of £180,000 to £250,000.
Christie’s announced its plans to tour the collection internationally before the anticipated sale in London on March 14, with stops in Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai. Some lots will also be available in an online auction running from March 8 to March 15.
Proceeds from the auction will go to Michael’s ongoing philanthropic projects.