Sotheby’s will offer 25 works by the late artist Christo that chart the planning of the artist’s final project: to cover the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 25,000 sqm of polypropylene fabric and rope. Christo passed away in 2020 but his monumental project will still be realized, with an estimated completion date of September 18 and October 3. Christo’s project dates back to his earliest years in Paris and will be entirely funded by the upcoming auction.
The Sotheby’s exhibition will take place at the Paris outpost and will coincide with the unveiling of the project during the second week of September.
Christo, along with his wife and life-long collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, deliberately made works that could be sold in order to fund their experiential practice. This has granted them the freedom to not rely on any institutional funding or any outsider support. “Each one of our works is a scream of freedom,” Christ said in a 2001 book.
Proceeds from the original works at Sotheby’s will benefit the latest Paris project and also go towards the newly established Christo & Jeanne-Claude Foundation. Sotheby’s also worked with the estate earlier this year to sell the couple’s famous collection of nearly 400 works, which sold for a total of €9.2m.
The Arc de Triomphe wrap is the last such project that can ever be done. The work dates back to 1958 when the Bulgarian-born Christo immigrated to Paris as a political refugee and could see the famous arch from his small room. The works at Sotheby’s range from 2017 to 2020 and are “like a walk around his brain”, says Simon Shaw, vice-chairman of Sotheby’s. Prices range from $150,000 to $2.5m.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their works in progress must be continued after their deaths. Per Christo’s wishes, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will be realized by his team.