Christie’s announced this morning in Hong Kong that it would be selling 11 works from the S.I. Newhouse collection during its May sales. The $130m worth of art is a mix of significant works by Cézanne, van Gogh and Jeff Koons along with works by Giacometti, Morandi, Warhol and Richard Prince. There’s a lot to say about Newhouse, his collecting and the fascinating market issue of the Koons rabbit, one of the undeniable seminal works of Contemporary art.
We will publish more of the works in the coming days but let’s pause here to listen to David Geffen who spoke to the New York Times about Newhouse and his collecting:
“He had the best eye and the best collection of postwar paintings ever put together,” said his friend David Geffen, the entertainment mogul, who added, “I bought a lot of it.”
The interesting thing about Tobias Meyer’s disposition of the Newhouse collection is that we keep getting these surprises like the Koons rabbit coming to market. It is well known that Newhouse was an active seller throughout his life and many of the works he owned have passed through multiple hands by now. Perhaps more interesting for the market to watch will be Newhouse’s effect on other markets. His eye is undisputed and though many of the works by other artists may not be as attention-getting as the Koons, their quality is quite evident.
Here’s Christie’s release on the Newhouse works and the Koons rabbit which is estimated at $50m:
This May, Christie’s will present 11 extraordinary works from the esteemed Collection of S.I. Newhouse. The selection will be sold across Christie’s New York Evening Sales of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 13, and Post-War and Contemporary Art on May 15. Representing Newhouse’s globally renowned taste and unfailing instinct for quality and historical significance, these works together trace key developments in the evolution of modern art, from the exceptional compositional inventiveness of Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-1890 (estimate in the region of $40 million)to the quintessential image from Andy Warhol’s incomparable Death and Disaster Series, Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965 (estimate: $6-8 million). However, no work is more emblematic of Newhouse’s intuition for the revolutionary and sublime than Jeff Koons’earth-shattering 1986 sculpture, Rabbit (estimate: $50-70 million). The group of 11 works is expected to exceed $130 million throughout 20th Century Week.
For many critics, the creation of Jeff Koons’ Rabbit (estimate: $50-70 million) was a breakthrough within the timeline of art history, signaling the end of all previously held notions of traditional sculpture, and the beginning of a new era for contemporary art. One of an edition of four, the present work is the sole example left in private hands, marking the last opportunity to acquire one of the most significant sculptures of the 20th century.
An object that simultaneously evokes intense feelings of lust, humor and devotion, Jeff Koons’ Rabbit was unveiled at the Sonnabend Gallery’s “New-Geo” exhibition in 1986, instantaneously designating a point of no return. Rabbit appeared as a simultaneously confounding and alluring embodiment of the time in which it was created, a moment that was defined by an explosion of vast personal wealth and an insatiable desire for manufactured popular culture. With its extraordinary mirror-like surface dissolving boundaries between itself and its surroundings, Rabbit reflects not only its immediate environment, but onlookers themselves. Standing before Rabbit, it becomes manifestly clear that this sculpture is a product of the same societal conditions that have shaped the viewer, a revelation that is as seductive as it is vexing.
In decades since Rabbit was introduced, it has become an undisputed icon, recognized around the globe through photos and via direct encounters at major museum exhibitions at landmark institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Château de Versailles; The Broad, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.