Day two of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller closed with the Art of the Americas Evening Sale, which totalled $106,883,500 / £79,114,360 — the most successful American Art sale in Christie’s history.
Shortly before the Art of the Americas sale the last of 253 lots went under the hammer in English & European Furniture, Ceramics and Decorations, Part I, an auction that lasted eight hours, was 100 per cent sold, and realised an extraordinary $12,367,750 / £9,154,515.
With more auctions to come, the running total for the collection now stands at $765,384,844 / £564,417,474. All Estate proceeds from this historic series will benefit selected charities that Peggy and David Rockefeller supported in their lifetime.
Watch the evening sale in full via our Facebook Live feed. For full results, click on the ‘Related Auctions’ links below
Bidders from 23 countries competed in the evening sale, with the top price being achieved for Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XIX from 1982. Painted by an artist at the end of his career, and acquired by David Rockefeller at end of his collecting career, it realised $14,262,500 after 10 minutes of bidding.
The second highest price of the sale came with Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington (Vaughan Type), painted in Philadelphia in 1795 — the earliest of his three important portraits of the first President of the United States. Setting a new world auction record for the artist, it was bought for $11,562,500.
Diego Rivera’s The Rivals also established a new world auction record for the artist, and in the process became the highest priced Latin American artwork in auction history. Commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in 1931, and later presented as a wedding present to her son David and his wife Peggy, the Mexican artist’s traditional festival scene spent decades hanging in the living room of the couple’s home in Maine. It sold for $9,762,500.
Works commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller were particularly sought after. In addition to the record Rivera, Charles Sheeler’s View of Central Park realised $1,332,500, and Midtown Range by Stefan Hirsch, a 1931 painting of the view from the fifth-floor window of the family’s former home on West 54th Street, was bought for $187,500 — an auction record for the artist.
Further world auction records were set for Charles Sheeler with White Sentinels, which sold for $2,232,500, eclipsing a record that had stood for 11 years; and for Charles Ephraim Burchfield with June Night (Luna Moth, Tulip Tree by Moonlight), which established a new high at $1,332,500.
Fairfield Porter’s The Schooner II, a view of Barred Island on the Rockefellers’ beloved Maine coast, realised $1,932,500 to pass the previous mark set in 2004. Another work celebrating the Rockefellers’ love of nature, Shore Birds by Morris Cole Graves, easily surpassed its high estimate to create a new auction record for the artist at $408,500.
‘The exceptional price for the Rivera solidifies Christie’s market leadership for Latin American art’ — Virgilio Garza, Christie’s
Highlights of an American Art collection described as ‘virtually encyclopaedic’ included Edward Hopper’s Cape Ann Granite, painted in the summer of 1928 ($8,412,500); Georgia O’Keeffe’s Near Abiquiu, New Mexico ($8,412,500); and Milton Avery’s Woman with Rebozo ($2,532,500).
In the later stages of the auction there were strong showings for John Singer Sargent’s San Geremia, which achieved $9,087,500; Maurice Brazil Prendergast’s Steps of Santa Maria d’Aracoeli, Rome ($3,372,500); and Winslow Homer’s Where are the Boats? ($4,572,500).
‘The American art from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller represents one of the best single owner collections to come to market and this evening collectors responded accordingly, said Will Haydock, Head of American Art at Christie's, afterwards. ‘Peggy and David appreciated and cherished this material in the same manner as their Impressionist and Modern masterworks and that allowed us to expose it on a broader, international stage.
‘Both established and new collectors gravitated to the auction and it enabled us to achieve this monumental result. Tonight’s sale set a record total for any American Art auction, with strong results achieved across all time periods of the category. There was a particular interest in works commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller one the first true pioneers and patrons of Modernism in the United States, as seen with the records set for Rivera, Sheeler and Hirsch.’
Earlier in the day, the huge interest shown in the displays of porcelain and fine furniture at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries and across the world, was reflected in the results of English & European Furniture, Ceramics and Decorations Part I.
The Sèvres porcelain ‘Marly Rouge’ service, commissioned by Napoleon I and subsequently acquired in part by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, broke the world auction record for 19th-century porcelain, selling for $1,812,500. A large, Qianlong-period Chinese Export ‘Tobacco Leaf’ dinner service set a new auction record for a dinner service when it realised $1,152,500, almost four times its high estimate. A pair of exquisite Meissen hoopoes made by Johann Kändler, the greatest European porcelain modeller of his age, sold for $175,000 against a low estimate of $20,000.
The appetite was equally strong for the many fine examples of English porcelain, silver and furniture that David Rockefeller grew up with, collected, and used throughout his life.
The Regency mahogany four-pedestal dining table from the dining room of Peggy and David Rockefeller’s 65th Street home (above) sold for $468,500 — more than 13 times its low estimate. From the same room, a set of 10 George III mahogany dining chairs from circa 1760 realised $250,000, and a George III mahogany secretaire breakfront bookcase flew past its high estimate before selling for $125,000.
Sales of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller continue on Thursday 10 May with the Fine Art Day Sale, English & European Furniture, Ceramics and Decorations Part II and Travel and Americana. The Online sale continues until Friday 11 May.