Up for Auction:
The Contemporary Appeal of the Rockefeller Collection
by Thomas Sweeney
Photographed by Hanna Tveite
On May 8th, 9th, and 10th, the estate sale of the late philanthropists David and Peggy Rockefeller will be hosted by the international auction house Christie’s at its New York City flagship. The couple’s 2,000-piece collection of rare paintings, porcelain, jewelry, furniture, and decorative objects will make for the largest and, quite possibly, most profitable art auction of all time. (Such treasures as Picasso’s Young Girl with a Basket of Flowers, which was originally owned by Gertrude Stein, could fetch at least $100 million.) At the request of David and Peggy prior to their passing, all proceeds from the sale will, in true Rockefeller style, be divided among 15 philanthropic organizations.
But not only do the Rockefellers’ acquisitions warrant pride of place in a 21st-century interior. They also fit seamlessly beside modern fashion, a functional art form in itself. To illustrate this, Christie’s and The Line have collaborated on an exclusive photoshoot that pairs a selection of porcelain, jewelry, furniture, and objects from the Rockefeller collection with a range of pieces currently offered by The Line. In the melodious images, each of the couple’s items, no matter its date of origin, appears to transcend time. What’s more, not a few of them pop from the page with a youngish spirit.
Aristide Maillol’s bronze Monument à Claude Debussy, with its ample, sensuous curves, doubles effortlessly as a stand for Proenza Schouler’s streamlined nappa-leather carryall.
The enduring aesthetic relevance of the Rockefellers’ collection, illuminated in these six photos, was crystal clear to the couple during their lifetime. David once said, “Eventually, all these objects, which have brought so much pleasure to Peggy and me, will go out into the world and will again be available to other caretakers who, hopefully, will derive the same satisfaction and joy from them as we have.” Next week, as the gavel falls at Christie’s, that new generation of caretakers will be determined. And with a collection this vast, comprehensive, and, above all, eternal, they’ll likely be found on every corner of the globe.
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