David Bowie’s Art Collection Captivates Thousands from Around the World
42,000 Attend Bowie/Collector Exhibitions Worldwide
Part I of Bowie/Collector: ‘White Glove’ Sale as 100% of Lots Sell
11 Records for British Artists Participants from 46 countries
First session doubles high estimate, totalling £24.3m / $30.3m (est. £8.1-11.7m)
Exceeding High Estimate for Entire Three-Part Sale
12 Artist Records: Frank Auerbach, Peter Lanyon, Bernard Leach, Winifred Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Henry Lamb, Harold Gilman, Ivon Hitchens, Kenneth Armitage, Bryan Wynter, Patrick Caulfield, Meret Oppenheim.
Oliver Barker, Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe: “David Bowie’s personal art collection captured the
imagination of the tens of thousands who visited our exhibitions and the hundreds who took part in this evening’s sale. Sotheby’s is truly honoured to have had the opportunity to share this collection with the world and, in doing so, offer a fresh insight into the creative mind of one of the greatest cultural figures of our time.”
Part I of David Bowie’s personal art collection attracted buyers from around the world, with collectors from 46 countries registered to bid for the 47 works on offer.
Over the course of the 10-day pre-sale exhibition in London, more than 37,000 people came to Sotheby’s to view the collection, making for the best attended pre-sale exhibition London has ever witnessed. Bidders battled for works by the British artists with whom Bowie felt such a close connection, such as Frank Auerbach, Peter Lanyon and Bernard Leach, as eleven new records were set for works of 20th CenturyBritish Art. Paintings by leading contemporary artists were also the subject of prolonged bidding battles in the saleroom, led by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s, Air Power, 1984 which sold for £7.1m.
A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie said: “David always enjoyed sharing the works in the
collection, loaning to museums and actively supporting the art and artists that were part of his world. While the family have kept certain pieces of particular significance, now was the time for others to share David’slove for these remarkable works and let them live on.”
A RECORD-BREAKING NIGHT FOR BRITISH ART
Of the 12 records set tonight, 11 were for works by 20th–Century British artists, led by Frank Auerbach’s
Head of Gerda Boehm which sold for £3.8m (est: £300,000-500,000). Bowie famously said of the painting: “My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks”.
Simon Hucker, Senior Specialist Modern & Post-War British Art, said “Bowie was drawn to the art for which he felt a profound personal connection, collecting with great intellect and passion. There were no
hierarchies among the artists he loved; collecting was yet another expression of his legendary creativity.
Alongside the sensational results for the better-known artists this evening, there was equal enthusiasm from collectors for the quieter, hidden-gems of Modern British art which he so loved and championed.”
Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965
10-minute bidding battle
Painting made £3.8m / $4.7m (est: £300,000-500,000)
New record for the artist (previous record stood at £2.3m)
Bowie said: “My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks”.
Portrait of the artist’s cousin, Head of Gerda Boehm, last exhibited at the Royal Academy when
Bowie lent the work to Auerbach’s much-heralded retrospective in 2001.
Peter Lanyon, Witness, 1961
Painting made £797,000 / $990,751 (est. £250,000-350,000 / $331,000-463,000)
New record for the artist (previous record stood at £389,000)
Bowie collected the St Ives school, and Lanyon, in particular, in great depth. No fewer than eight
works by the artist feature across the sales
Bernard Leach, “Vase with Leaping Fish Design”, late 1960s
Vase made £32,500 / $40,401 (est. £5,000-7,000)
New record for the artist (previous record stood at £12,500)
Leach opened the Leach Pottery in St Ives with Shoji Hamada where he united the classical pottery
traditions of Asia, including the taste for imperfections and the handmade, with those of English
slipware potters and early 20th Century abstraction. The bold calligraphic brushwork of the “Leaping
Fish” motif is among Leach’s most iconic work and the Leach Pottery is still open today.
Harold Gilman, Interior (Mrs Mounter), 1917
Painting made £485,000 / $602,904 (est. £150,000-250,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £270,650)
In 1917 this was a new kind of subject, a suburban lodger, lost in thought in a nondescript room in
an ordinary London house. For art to be modern, artists like Gilman demanded that it should be
concerned with the everyday life of the city.
Winifred Nicholson, St Ives Harbour, 1928
Painting made £245,000 / $304,560 (est: £50,000-70,000)
New record for the artist (previous record stood at £168,000)
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Glacier (Bone), 1950
Painting made £106,250 / $132,079 (est. £50,000-70,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £84,500)
Glacier (Bone) is a beautiful example of one of the series of ‘Glacier Abstractions’ paintings Barns-
Graham produced following a trip to the Grindelwald Glacier in Switzerland
Henry Lamb, Study for Portrait of Lytton Strachey, 1913
Painting made £100,000 / $124,310 (est. £25,000-35,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £72,000)
Ivon Hitchens, The Boathouse No. 3, 1948
Painting made £245,000 / $304,560 (est. £60,000-80,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £242,500)
When Hitchens’ home and studio were bombed in 1940, the artist and his family left wartime
London for the relative safety of Sussex. The tranquil Sussex woodland served as an inexhaustible
source of inspiration, enabling Hitchens to develop a unique pictorial language that gives The
Boathouse No. 3 its distinct melodic quality.
Kenneth Armitage, R.A., Model for Diarchy (Small Version), conceived in 1957 and cast in 1959
Painting made £185,000 / $229,974) (est. £30,000-50,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £145,250)
Bryan Wynter, In the Stream’s Path
Painting made £131,000 / $162,846 (est. £50,000-70,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £115,250)
Model for Diarchy (small version) was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the 1952 Venice Biennale
Patrick Caulfield, Foyer, 1973
Painting made £665,000 / $826,662 (est. £400,000—600,000)
A new record for the artist – (Previous record stood at £512,000)
Considered to be one of Britain’s leading Pop artists, a painter of everyday objects in the flat
graphic style of illustration and advertising
STRONG RESULTS FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984
Sold to bidder in the room
5 minute bidding battle
Painting made £7.1m / $8.8m (est. £2.5-3.5m)
Most valuable work sold at the auction tonight
Bowie played the role of Andy Warhol in the 1996 film Basquiat
In 1996 Bowie also wrote a feature on Basquiat for Modern Painters magazine illustrated with an
image of Air Power. He wrote that “It comes as no surprise to learn that he [Basquiat] had a not-sohidden
ambition to be a rock musician, as his work relates to rock in ways that very few other visual
artists get near
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1984
Bidding started at £1m
Painting made £2.4m / $2.96m (est. £500,000-700,000)
Brings together key elements from Basquiat’s oeuvre – the black hero, strong political concerns and
the artist’s fusion of street culture and high art
Damien Hirst with David Bowie, Beautiful, hallo, space-boy painting, 1995
Painting made £785,000 / $975,834 (est. £250,000—350,000)
Created in collaboration with David Bowie when he visited Hirst’s studio in 1995
Bowie wrote that Hirst’s “spin” paintings are “unconcerned with the savageness of life. It’s
optimistic, it’s here and it’s now” (Modern Painters, 1996).
Damien Hirst, Beautiful, shattering, slashing, violent, pinky, hacking, sphincter painting, 1995
Painting made £755,000 / $938,540 (est. £250,000—350,000)
Hirst was one of only a handful of high-profile contemporary artists for whom Bowie publicly
expressed his admiration. “He’s different. I think his work is extremely emotional, subjective, very
tied up with his own personal fears – his fear of death is very strong – and I find his pieces moving
and not at all flippant”, said Bowie in an interview with the New York Times.
Meret Oppenheim, La Condition Humaine, 1973
Painting made £197,000 / $244,891 (est. £20,000-30,000)
A new record for the artist (previous record stood at £73,839)
A major contributor to the Surrealist movement, Meret Oppenheim is considered to be amongst
the most important female artists of the 20th century.