Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter, married Ron Miller, a football player turned CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Among their interests were collecting art but also classical music, vineyards and wine making. Ms. Miller set up a charitable trust which will benefit from the sale of their art at Christie’s and will support causes like Jane Goodall Institute, the HALO Trust, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Among the works being sold this Fall are a Richard Diebenkorn work from the Ocean Park series. A Wayne Thiebaud painting of Mickey Mouse—both Diebenkorn and Thiebaud had their personal encounters with Disney’s creative teams—and American works by Milton Avery and Andrew Wyeth.
Here’s Christie’s release on the collection:
Together, Ron and Diane Disney Miller built an impressive private collection of works by artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Milton Avery, and Wayne Thiebaud—figures whose works, like the animations of her father, are infused with bold experimentation in line, color, and movement. Of particular poignancy are works in the collection that reflect both the Millers’ connection to California, as well as the artists’ own association with The Walt Disney Company. Thiebaud, for one, apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios as an animator drawing characters such as Goofy, Pinocchio, and Jiminy Cricket—early influences for what would become his signature style of stylized realism in lively technicolor. During WW II, Diebenkorn was dispatched to Hawaii to work in cartography alongside Disney animators, where he learned to translate three-dimensional imagery onto a two-dimensional plane—a key element within his later of work.
Whether in the couple’s exceptional grouping of American landscapes or Contemporary paintings and works on paper, Diane and Ron built a collection remarkable for its originality and diversity. The legacy of Diane Disney Miller rests not only in the remarkable continuation of Walt Disney’s artistic spirit, but in her own unwavering belief in fostering a more inspired, creative world.
Proceeds from the sale of Wayne Thiebaud’s Mickey Mouse will fund programming initiatives at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, a 40,000-square foot institution housing historic archival materials and artifacts of the 95-year-old company paired with the latest technology to fully illustrate Disney’s rich legacy. Sale of the remainder of the collection — including works by Henri Matisse, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Roy Lichtenstein, and others — will benefit additional causes important to the family including the Jane Goodall Institute, the HALO Trust, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The latter being especially significant to the Disney family, as in 1987, Lilian B. Disney (Diane Disney Miller’s mother) gave an initial donation of $50 million to build the Frank Gehry-designed California performance venue in memory of her pioneering husband.
POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART EVENING SALE | NOVEMBER 14
Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park #108 ($7-9 million) belongs to the series of Ocean Park paintings that the artist made in his studio in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica, which afforded abundant natural light and a narrow view of the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Park #108, painted in 1978, is suffused with the ineffable qualities that define the West Coast way of life, which Diebenkorn has distilled into a taut, geometric design. Diebenkorn devoted twenty years to the Ocean Park series, continuously refining and perfecting his craft from its beginnings in 1967. By the end of the 1970s, when Ocean Park #108 was created, the artist’s flair for color had been honed to a fine point. About a year after it was completed, this work and others in the series were selected for a solo exhibition at the artist’s gallery in New York with many from this show now located in major American museum collections including the Oakland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART MORNING SESSION | NOVEMBER 13
Wayne Thiebaud’s depiction of the iconic cartoon character, Mickey Mouse, 1988 (estimate: $400,000 – 600,000), is a delight in both its composition and color palette. Reminiscent of Disney’s golden age, Mickey Mouse demonstrates Thiebaud’s modern treatment of color with his bold use of acrylic paint, bringing new life to Walt Disney’s globally beloved icon. Thiebaud’s ability to transform a universally recognizable character into a subject of drama and complexity is a testament to his power of observation as well as his extraordinary sense of color and form.
AMERICAN ART | NOVEMBER 20
Andrew Wyeth’s Oliver’s Cap (estimate: $3,000,000 – 5,000,000) is an enigmatic painting, characteristic of his greatest works in its realization of a distinct, delicate balance, being at once both intensely complex and intimate. Painted in 1981, on the surface Oliver’s Cap may appear as a simple, traditional, American portrayal of a rural country scene. With Oliver’s Cap, Wyeth achieves a mysterious detachment from his subject while effectively communicating an intimate personal narrative, a quiet, pervasive tension, and sense of anticipation. Wyeth considered the present work intensely personal, stating in a letter, “I want you to know the egg tempera painting you have, titled ‘Oliver’s Cap’ I consider one of my very richest (sic) and most personal pictures.”
Additionally, the collection includes a group of works on paper by Winslow Homer featuring his classic maritime themes as depicted in Boats Alongside a Schooner (estimate: $300,000-500,000), Thomas Hill’s Picnic by the Sea, a 7 ½-foot-wide 1873 painting of San Francisco Bay (estimate: $70,000-100,000), and William Keith’s The Headwaters of the Owens River (estimate: $100,000-150,000).