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  • Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 16 September 2019

RELEASE: Christie's Announces The Collection of Richard L. Weisman

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987) The Athletes, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 40 x 40 in., painted 1977-1979 (Offered as separate lots, estimates below)

New York – Christie’s is honored to offer The Collection of Richard L. Weisman, an outstanding selection of paintings, drawings, works on paper and sculpture assembled by the passionate and prolific collector throughout his lifetime. The collection, an eclectic blend of works that will be offered through Christie’s major sales in New York this fall in the categories of Post-War & Contemporary Art, American Art, and Latin American Art, as well as an online-only sale of Picasso Ceramics. Additional sales in 2020 will offer works in the categories of Modern British Art and Photographs.

Featuring important images of American icons and iconography by some of the 20th century’s greatest Pop artists, the Collection includes seminal works by Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Peter Beard who all became friends of the colorful collector. Additional works by Norman Rockwell, Tom Wesselmann, Alberto Giacometti, and Roy Lichtenstein highlight Weisman’s diverse and unique aesthetic. The collection is expected to exceed $15 million for the sales in 2019.

Abby Weisman, daughter of Richard L. Weisman, said: “My father’s art collection reminds me of one of his dinner parties. Typically, these occasions included luminaries from the art, sports, entertainment, and social worlds. Every person at the table had a fascinating story to tell and was accomplished in his/her own medium. Chances are, you’d walk away with something to think about. And so it is with the Collection. The breadth reflects a lifetime’s progression from Fullerton High in the 1950s to the U.N. Plaza in the 70s and 80s, right through to a quieter focus on family values in later years. Through all this runs nostalgia for a personal ideology, which may have eluded my father at certain times in life. And if art offers us what nature does not, then the shiny comic book culture, which jumps from the canvases of Warhol, Ramos, and Lichtenstein, is not an unlikely dinner partner for the sentiments of Rockwell and George Hughes. Throw in the vitality of some lesser-known artists and the dinner party is complete.”

Sara Friedlander, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War & Contemporary Art commented:Richard L. Weisman was a collector whose love for art endeared him to some of the twentieth century’s most creative figures. Having grown up surrounded by art, it is Weisman’s close friendship with Andy Warhol for which he is best remembered. As an avid lover of art and sports, Weisman approached Warhol with the idea to combine the two. Completed between 1977 and 1979, Athletes consists of ten distinct subjects depicting the major sports stars of the age. Recognizing the growing commercialization of sports, it is through this series that Weisman challenged Warhol to embrace the changing nature of fame as athletes and sports stars rose to take center stage in American popular culture.”

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COLLECTION

I personally don’t like to limit the scope of my collecting — I just love the art,” Richard L. Weisman once explained. It was with a passion for creative expression that Weisman curated his cherished collection.

Andy Warhol’s Athletes, which will be sold separately in Christie’s November sales, are multi-colored 40 x 40-inch acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas portraits that depict the most iconic sports stars of the 1970s. Being among the inner circle of Warhol’s Factory, Richard Weisman knew the artist well when he approached him to produce Athletes as a series of paintings completed between 1977 and 1979.

The series features images of Muhammad Ali (boxing, estimate $4,000,000 – 6,000,000), Chris Evert (tennis, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000), Jack Nicklaus (golf, estimate: $200,000 – 300,000), Tom Seaver (baseball, $150,000 – 250,000), Willie Shoemaker (horse racing, $250,000 – 350,000), Dorothy Hamill (figure skating, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000), Pelé (soccer, estimate: $400,000 – 600,000), OJ Simpson (football, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball, estimate: $300,000 – 500,000), and Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis, estimate:$200,000 – 300,000).

“I chose the sports stars,” Weisman noted of his role in selecting the sports stars that would be featured. “Andy didn’t really know the difference between a football and a golf ball.” Using his Polaroid Big Shot camera, Warhol took each of the photographs himself. Eventually, these works appeared in magazines and billboards across the nation promoting everything from sportswear to cars and breakfast cereals. “The sports stars of today are the movie stars of yesterday,” Warhol later noted.

A strong selection of American Illustration continues the collection’s narrative of American identity and iconography. Leading the group is Norman Rockwell’s Harvest Moon, a cover illustration epitomizing the artist’s quintessential nostalgia through the subject of young love (illustrated left, estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000). Other paintings by Rockwell in the collection include the large-scale oil painting Red Head (estimate: $600,000-800,000) and Laughing Boy (estimate $150,000-250,000), which has compositional similarities to Warhol’s Athletes series.

Fellow Saturday Evening Post illustrator George Hughes is represented by the 1950s cover illustrations Summer Romance Spoiled (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and Untidy Boy’s Bedroom (estimate: $25,000-35,000).  Additional works by Hughes, as well as Gillette Elvgren and Kurt Ard, will be offered in the American Art online sale.

RICHARD L. WEISMAN (1940-2018)

Born to notable art collectors Frederick and Marcia Weisman, Richard L. Weisman grew up surrounded by art and artists. His parents—famously depicted in David Hockney’s American Collectors, now at the Art Institute of Chicago—were two of California’s most distinguished 20th century art connoisseurs and among the original founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Weisman was also the nephew of industrialist and collector Norton Simon, for whom an art museum in Pasadena, Calif. is named. A prolific and passionate collector in his own right, Weisman’s prescient eye allowed him to assemble a remarkable collection of masterworks that depict some of the 20th century’s most important Pop icons and iconography. For Weisman, art represented an opportunity to explore the vast scope of human creativity, free from all constraints.

In the Sixties, the recent college graduate began a lifetime of collecting with the purchase of his first piece of art: Roberto Matta’s 1955 oil on canvas Early Urge (estimate: $80,000 – 120,000). In the years that followed, Weisman steadily assembled not only an exceptional grouping of masterworks, but also a remarkable circle of friends. Weisman became renowned for entertaining athletes, actors, and artists at his homes with gatherings that welcomed a coterie of creatives from Peter Beard, Roy Lichtenstein, and Barnett Newman to Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

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