When the philanthropist Anne H. Bass died in 2020, she left behind an enviable collection of 19th and 20th century masterpieces.
Today, a dozen of these paintings and sculptures, including prized pieces by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Mark Rothko, are set to go up for auction at Christie’s. In total, they are expected to bring in $250 million.
Christie’s will hold a dedicated sale of the Bass collection the week of May 9, during the auction house’s Spring Sales in New York. (The exact date and time of the event have yet to be announced.)
Leading the sale, a pair of red Rothkos: Untitled (shades of red) (1961), guaranteed to be sold with an estimate of $60–80 million, and No. 1 (1962), estimated between $45 and $65 million. Not far behind, in terms of price, is a trio of Monets: Parliament, setting sun (1903), should range from 40 to 60 million dollars; water lilies (1907), estimated between $35 and $55 million; and Poplars on the banks of the Epte (1891), which is expected to sell for $30-50 million.
Another artist represented three times in the sale is Degas, whose famous portraits of ballet dancers resonated with Bass, a lifelong dancer and a big supporter of New York City Ballet. A 40 inch tall bronze sculpture of a ballerina, Fourteen year old dancer (1927), is estimated between 20 and 30 million dollars, while two paintings by the French artist are priced at $4-6 million and $1.2-1.8 million.
Each of these works of art, and the four others that make up the sale, came directly from the elegant house of Bass, designed by Mark Hampton on Fifth Avenue. They were donated by the collector’s two daughters, Hyatt and Samantha Bass.
The collection will go hand in hand with the final chapter of Macklowe’s coveted treasure, which will go under the hammer this season at Sotheby’s for an expected $300 million.
“As a collector, Anne Bass was timeless,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s president for 20th and 21st century art, said in a statement. “Truly passionate about art in all its forms, not only did she appreciate beautiful objects, but she lived with them. These paintings and sculptures were more than mere possessions for Mrs. Bass, they were part of her home and part of her daily life.
A prominent member of the upper world for much of his life, Bass nevertheless cultivated an air of intimacy. (She once agreed to talk to a Texas monthly journalist on the precondition that he asks for “nothing personal”.)
She married her husband, Texas oil magnate Sid Richardson Bass, in 1965 and the two settled in Fort Worth for 15 years before moving to New York. The couple separated in the late 1980s, leaving Anne what was, at the time, the biggest divorce settlement in Texas history, totaling around $200 million.
Bass died aged 79 in 2020 after a long illness.
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