• Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 11 April 2017

PRESS RELEASE: The Esther B. Ferguson Collection: A Legacy in Art and Patronage


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Femme dans un fauteuil

New York – Christie’s announces the collection of Esther B. Ferguson, comprised of paintings, sculpture and works on paper, will be offered in Impressionist & Modern, Post-War & Contemporary and American Art sales in May 2017. Featuring artists such as Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Auguste Rodin, Barbara Hepworth, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, and Milton Avery, among others, the collection is comprised of 17 works.  

Esther Ferguson, an arts patron and philanthropist, built the collection together with her late husband, James L. Ferguson, former CEO of General Mills. Upon his retirement in 1989, the couple relocated from Manhattan to Charleston where she carefully renovated their magnificent 19th century James Island residence, Secessionville Manor. Mrs. Ferguson’s first major acquisition, Femme dans un fauteuil, by Pablo Picasso, was followed by paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by artists. The collection reflects a boundless enthusiasm for the creative process, and a desire to live each day surrounded by works of history and importance.

Note to editors:

* The first owner of Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil was the legendary screen star Gary Cooper. As a young man Cooper studied art before turning to acting.

* Esther B. Ferguson is the founder of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University, and has served on the boards of the Charleston Symphony, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Young Concert Artists, and the Spoleto Festival USA. The College of Charleston is a particular focus: Mrs. Ferguson has provided financial support and leadership to the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture, as well as the renowned International Piano Series. In 1996, the Fergusons donated two of their historic homes in Trujillo, Spain, to create a dynamic new study abroad program for College of Charleston students and faculty. Mrs. Ferguson maintains her longtime commitment as a board member of Charleston’s Gibbes Museum of Art and she established the Gibbes’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction, private and digital sales in 2017 that totalled £5.1 billion / $6.6 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.