Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips battle it out to sell $700m Macklowe collection

Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips battle it out to sell $700m Macklowe collection
The New York Supreme Court, where it was decided that the Marklowes would need to sell off 65 works from their collection. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

In the midst of a very public and nasty divorce, Harry and Linda Macklowe have been court ordered to sell off 65 works from their extensive art collection. With that news, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips are all now competing for the chance to sell the Macklowe collection later this year.

Harry and Linda Macklowe (left and centre) with Michael Lynne at the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Guild Hall. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

In 1959, the couple, now in their 80s, began accumulating their collection. Over the years, it has grown to include more than 150 works, many of which are highly valuable items. Then, in 2018, as the Macklowes worked through their split, Justice Laura Drager of the New York Supreme Court ordered that the couple would need to sell off the 65 most valuable works in their collection. That portion, alone, is estimated to be worth around $700 million and thus an exciting prospect for the auction house who wins the bid. That 2018 decision also ruled that Mrs. Macklowe could keep $40 million worth of art from the collection but would have to pay Mr. Macklowe, who was remarried in March 2019 to Patricia Landeau, a former fashion exec.

The Macklowe collection includes works by major artists like Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Jeff Koons, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Alberto Giacometti and Andy Warhol. Vest with Aqualung by Koons and Nine Marilyns by Warhol are among the most exciting works to come to auction in the collection and have an estimated value of $10 million and $50 million, respectively.

The couple are required to sell the artworks because of differing opinions of worth. In some cases, the valuations of the works to be sold differed by as much as $30 million. To settle that disagreement, Judge Drager determined that the works would need to be sold and the profits split. With that ruling, the Macklowes extended an invitation to auction houses to offer their best bid, in other words, a bid to see who can offer the best guarantee to the Macklowes, to win the chance to sell the collection. Director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries and president of the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, Michael Findlay has been selected as the receiver who will act on behalf of the Macklowe’s to sell the works.

Proposals from the auction houses are expected to be in sometime in February after having the chance to view the works this month. The date of the auction has yet to be announced but it is expected to happen sometime this spring according to Josh Schiller, a partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner, the firm representing Mr. Macklowe in the divorce.

‘It will be a fun event,’ said Schiller according to Bloomberg. Although it’s unsure if the Macklowes would agree with Schiller’s statement, it will certainly be an interesting auction to watch and one that could set a few records.