The George Michael Collection comes to Christie’s

Over 170 works from the legendary recording artist’s private collection, including iconic pieces by the leading YBA artists, to be offered across a flagship live auction in London on 14 March, and a special online sale — with proceeds used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work

Singer, songwriter and creative icon, George Michael was one of the most influential recording artists of all time. Across a stellar 35-year career, which began with Wham! in the early 1980s and flourished with a string of era-defining solo hits, he sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, packed stadiums and arenas from Tokyo to Tampa, and won scores of major awards, redefining pop music in the process.

In addition to writing, producing and performing a songbook of classic tracks — Careless Whisper, Last Christmas, A Different Corner, Faith, Praying for Time, Freedom ’90, Fastlove, and Jesus to a Child, to name just a few, George Michael’s standing in the music world is reflected by the calibre of artists who sought to work with him: Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett and Luciano Pavarotti being among those he recorded or duetted with.

George Michael won three Ivor Novello Awards for Songwriter of the Year (1985, 1989 and 1996) — the only individual to win the accolade on three occasions, and in 2004 was named by the Radio Academy as the most played artist on British radio over the previous 20 years.

Michael Craig-Martin, Commissioned Portrait Untitled (George), 2007. Wall-mounted LCD monitorcomputer with integrated software. 49½ x 29½ x 4 1316 in (125.7 x 74.9 x 12.1 cm). Offered in The George Michael Collection on 14 March at Christie’s London © Michael Craig-Martin. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian
Michael Craig-Martin, Commissioned Portrait Untitled (George), 2007. Wall-mounted LCD monitor/computer with integrated software. 49½ x 29½ x 4 13/16 in (125.7 x 74.9 x 12.1 cm). Offered in The George Michael Collection on 14 March at Christie’s London © Michael Craig-Martin. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian

On 14 March in London, over 60 works from George Michael’s private art collection will be offered in a flagship live auction at Christie’s, with more than 110 further works presented in a dedicated online sale (8-15 March). Proceeds from the sale of the collection will be used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work.

The George Michael Collection  represents a unique dialogue between a great British music artist and his contemporaries in the visual arts, such as Damien HirstTracey EminSarah LucasMichael Craig-Martin, and Marc Quinn, who rose to prominence by challenging the status quo, and together created the Young British Art movement.

Take a first look at highlights and key themes from the collection

Damien Hirst (b. 1965), The Incomplete Truth, executed in 2006. Glass, painted aluminium, silicone, acrylic, stainless steel, dove and formaldehyde solution. 87 x 69 x 29⅛ in (222 x 176 x 74 cm). This work is number two from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof and one Hors de Commerce. Estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection

Damien Hirst (b. 1965), The Incomplete Truth, executed in 2006. Glass, painted aluminium, silicone, acrylic, stainless steel, dove and formaldehyde solution. 87 x 69 x 29⅛ in (222 x 176 x 74 cm). This work is number two from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof and one Hors de Commerce. Estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection Evening Auction on 14 March 2019 at Christie’s in London. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019

George Michael developed friendships with many of these YBA artists through visits to galleries and their studios, and the collection reflects his dedication to cutting-edge creativity as well as his instinctive and long-held willingness to support young, emerging artistic talent.

Pre-order the catalogue for The George Michael Collection

Key works in the sale will include Damien Hirst’s The Incomplete Truth (2006), an emblematic work from the ‘Natural History’ series, in which formaldehyde-suspended animals and organs become spectacles of iconic power, provocatively probing the relationships between life, death, art, faith, and science.

Tracey Emin (b. 1963), Drunk to the Bottom of My Soul, executed in 2002. Appliqué blanket. 76 ⅜ x 63 in (194 x 160 cm). Estimate £180,000-250,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection Evening Auction on 14 March 2019 at Christie’s in London

Tracey Emin (b. 1963), Drunk to the Bottom of My Soul, executed in 2002. Appliqué blanket. 76 ⅜ x 63 in (194 x 160 cm). Estimate: £180,000-250,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection Evening Auction on 14 March 2019 at Christie’s in London

Tracey Emin’s Drunk to the Bottom of My Soul  (2002) is another standout — a large-scale example of the artist’s celebrated appliquéd blankets, which transform traditional textile-based media into vehicles for raw, confessional poetry. Bridget Riley’s Songbird  from 1982, meanwhile, was among George Michael’s favourite works and hung above the fireplace in one of the homes owned by the artist who won three Grammy Awards, two Brits and performed the first concert at the new Wembley Stadium.

Bridget Riley (b. 1931), Songbird, painted in 1982. Oil on linen. 42 x 36 ⅝ in (106.7 x 93 cm). Estimate £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection Evening Auction on 14 March 2019 at Christie’s in London

Bridget Riley (b. 1931), Songbird, painted in 1982. Oil on linen. 42 x 36 ⅝ in (106.7 x 93 cm). Estimate: £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in The George Michael Collection Evening Auction on 14 March 2019 at Christie’s in London

Ahead of the sale in London, an expansive global tour of the collection will pay tribute to the groundbreaking spirit of George Michael. The tour will include a stop in China where Wham! played two historic concerts in 1985, becoming the first major Western act to perform in the country.

Opening in New York (8-11 February) and also including exhibitions in Los Angeles (11-16 February) and Hong Kong (19-22 February), the tour will conclude in London with the collection appearing in a special public view at Christie’s headquarters (9-14 March).

‘Philanthropic work was hugely important for George during his lifetime. It was his wish that this work would continue long after he had passed on’ — George Michael’s trustees

‘The viewing of works from George Michael’s private collection will provide a fascinating insight into the broader tastes of a man who was a creative genius of the music industry, and admired all over the world,’ commented Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s.

The trustees for the star, who died on Christmas Day 2016, remarked on how philanthropic work was ‘hugely important’ to George Michael during his lifetime. ‘It was his wish that this work would continue long after he had passed on,’ they stated, ‘and we are very pleased that this sale will ensure that it will do so.’

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As well as extending George Michael's long legacy as a supporter of many deserving causes, the sale of the collection represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors, art lovers and the star's legions of fans to acquire art that he owned. Estimates for works offered in the online sale will start at £400, rising to £1.5 million on the top lots in the flagship live auction.