Christie's | Fine Art Auction House


14 March 2012  |  Collections   |  Article

The Collection of Alan Dershowitz and Carolyn Cohen

I’ve always been a collector. As a kid I collected Brooklyn Dodger autographs, baseball cards, comic books, stamps, coins, bottle tops, and anything else that could fit into one drawer in the bureau I shared with my younger brother (and even some things that couldn’t, like tropical fish). I never threw anything away (except the dead fish), much to my mother’s chagrin.

“What are you gonna do with all that junk?” my mother would ask imploringly.

“It’s gonna be valuable someday,” I would respond, pointing with pride to my neatly organized treasures.

And they would have been valuable someday—at least the comic books and the baseball cards—had my mother not thrown them out the minute I left home for law school (I lived at home while attending Brooklyn College). I once found a t-shirt that well summarized my plight (and that of an entire generation of young collectors). It said, “I once was a millionaire, …then my mother threw my baseball cards away.”

I never thought I could afford to collect great art, since I have always lived on a budget. But I bought my first piece of real art for $25 in 1965, when I was a 27 year old assistant professor. I was sent on an all expenses paid trip to Paris by the dean of the law school. His pretense was that he wanted me to look at schools of criminology, but I have always suspected that he really wanted to expose me to European culture, since I was probably the only Harvard faculty member who had never traveled abroad.

While in Paris, I went to a number of art galleries. At one of them, I saw a Kandinsky lithograph. The asking price was the equivalent of $50 (the Franc was quite weak then), but I bargained the owner down to $25. It was my first art purchase and it still hangs proudly in our home.

When Carolyn and I married in 1986 and subsequently moved into a large home with lots of wall space, we became serious collectors. Our tastes are similarly eclectic. We both love “transitional” art – paintings done by artists who were transitioning between periods or genres.  Our collection has grown over the years to include impressionist, surrealist and post war paintings and sculptures. We are drawn to art with stories or a history behind it that enhances its aesthetic for us.  We love the idea that our antiquities existed in ancient times and are now in a suburb of Boston.  We like art that evokes both an emotional and cerebral response. 

Now that we are approaching retirement and downsizing, we will continue to collect, but on a smaller scale.  We hope our beloved art finds wonderful homes, and we hope to be able to discuss “our” art with anyone who “adopts” it.

--Alan Dershowitz

Christie’s is honored to present works from the Collection of Alan Dershowitz and Carolyn Cohen in several forthcoming sales in New York:

25 April - Prints & Multiples
2 May - Impressionist & Modern Art Day and Works on Paper
9 May - Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session
8 June - Antiquities
18 June - Interiors
19 July - Prints & Multiples
19 September - First Open Post-War & Contemporary Art

Related Sale
Sale 2548
Prints & Multiples
24-25 Apr 2012
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Sale 2555
Impressionist and Modern Art Works on Paper
2 May 2012
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Sale 2556
Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale
2 May 2012
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Related Departments
Impressionist & Modern Art
Post-War & Contemporary Art
Prints & Multiples

All - Paintings, Prints, Drawings & Watercolors
All other categories of objects
Furniture & Lighting
Prints & Multiples
Post War

Alan Dershowitz and Carolyn Cohen