Images of Ben Heller’s apartment have been published before. But New York Magazine has a set of color photographs of Heller’s apartment from 1962 that detail some of the many works the collector was prescient enough to have bought.
There are the extraordinary Jackson Pollocks—most notably Blue Poles which astounded the world when the National Gallery of Australia paid $2m for it in 1973—that dominated his living room. Heller’s seven Rothkos, Gottlieb, Klines, Motherwell, Gorky, Barnett Newman and de Koonings place him among the pre-eminent collectors of Abstract Expressionism. His Jasper Johns map painting and collection of pre-Columbian American, African, and ancient sculpture mixed among the heroic paintings pre-figures a collecting trend that has re-emerged in recent years.
What makes Heller more interesting, though, is the presence in these pictures of works by Ray Parker and Bradley Walker Tomlin, a reminder that great collectors always have their B- or C-level works that are either mistakes or have not yet been embraced to the extent that the other works have been:
In this living room at 151 Central Park West — where Heller lived from 1959 to around 1975 he had three Jackson Pollocks and one Barnett Newman. In the dining room was a Giacometti sculpture, a Kline, and a Johns. Also hanging around were works by Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still.
Ben Heller’s Mid-Century NYC Apartment (NYMag/TheCut)