On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Helena Rubenstein, New York; Estate sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 20 April 1966, lot 41.
Frieda Kittay Goldsmith, Palm Beach (acquired at the above sale).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
Property formerly from the Collection of Frieda Kittay Goldsmith, Palm Beach, Florida
Sol Kittay and his family arrived in America in 1925, at the age of 15, from the impoverished East End of London. He began working immediately --at first stapling pompoms on slippers, then working his way to become a successful salesman, and finally buying an old textile mill in the Midwest manufacturing men's T-shirts and boxer shorts. Ultimately, success drove him to buy a similar but larger textile operation with a recognized name, B.V.D., which he converted from an almost-bankrupt company into a dynamic success.
While in his fifties, he sold B.V.D. and he and his wife Frieda (a fluent speaker of French who loved that country's history, culture and language, and whom he had met in 1937) turned their attentions to other interests--philanthropy, art collecting and gastronomy. In addition to being supporters of a variety of charities, they funded one of the first experiments of housing for the elderly - an alternative to a nursing home, Kittay House, with which Frieda Kittay was involved until her death. It was built in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and it continues today to service the city's residents while standing as a pioneer in the social movement now known as assisted living.
Sol Kittay had an unerring eye for quality which was fostered in business and transferred to his taste as a collector. He loved strolling in the West End of London, visiting galleries and attending auctions. During the late 60s and early 70s, he and his wife gradually built a collection of "contemporary" art, particularly strong in Giacometti, Chagall, Miro and Dufy. Their collection was influenced, in part, by the years they had spent on Cap Ferrat (where they owned a house) and the infamous "light" that has served as an inspiration to so many artists in the south of France.
Sol and Frieda Kittay loved fine dining and had a dream of starting a first-class restaurant. This dream came to fruition with La Seine, on East 58th Street in Manhattan. In order to share their interests with the public, the walls of La Seine were adorned with their art collection--always mentioned by the critics who gave the restaurant such positive reviews.
After the restaurant closed, the art returned to their homes. From Sol's death in 1982, his widow, Frieda, cherished the collection until her death last April.
Christie's is pleased to be offering property from the Kittay Collection in the November 6th and 7th, Impressionist & Modern Art Evening, Day and Works on Paper sales.
F. Meyer, Chagall, New York, 1963, p. 754, no. 492 (illustrated, p. 660).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Chagall, 1946, no. 34.
New York, Galerie Chalette, Chagall, 1958 (illustrated).