Steven Litt reports this morning that the Cleveland Museum bought Alice Neel’s 1970 ‘Jackie Curtis and Rita Red,’ for $1.65 million. The price was a record for the artist and triple the high estimate.
“We’re happy, very happy,” said C. Griffith Mann, the museum’s chief curator, who followed the auction online from an office in Cleveland. He said the museum was near its limit in the bidding for the painting, which had been estimated to sell for $400,000 to $500,000.
“We were close enough to be nervous but still had a little bit of gas in the tank,” Mann said. “But definitely, it was a nerve-wracking experience.”
The purchase was meant to return the work, which came from the estate of Akron collectors Mary and Louis Myers. The painting had been loaned to the Cleveland museum recently.
The estate of Mary Myers loaned the Neel to the Cleveland museum for the opening of its new East Wing in June. The museum hung the painting next to its big Warhol, “Marilyn x 100,” re-creating the ambience of the artist’s “Factory” studio in Manhattan.
“It’s a work we grew very comfortable seeing in the context of our collections,” Mann said. “We felt it should stay here, so we were really committed to going to bat to keep it here.”
Cleveland Museum Wins Auction for Alice Neel Painting (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
Hat tip: Lindsay Pollock