On Tuesday, Sotheby’s announced it will auction a group of works consigned from the collection of strapped airline British Airways. The collection sale, comprising paintings and prints, is meant to raise funds in excess of $1 million (€878,000).
In a statement, Sotheby’s confirmed that 17 works will be offered across two auctions expected together to net between £920,000 (€1 million) to £1.4 million.
The highest estimated lot of those on offer is a striped abstract painting by British artist Bridget Riley, from 1982, titled Cool Edge. The work is expected to fetch £800,000 to £1.2 million. The works will go up for sale on July 28 in Sotheby’s multi-category London evening sale alongside masterworks by Rembrandt, Matisse, Francis Bacon, and Gerhard Richter. The remaining lots will be offered to bidders in an online auction scheduled to take place July 20–30.
The company is liquidating a portion of its art holdings in the wake of a crisis for global carriers amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has halted international and domestic travel. According to the International Air Transport Association’s May report, the sector is expecting a total annual loss of $84 billion.
The sale also marks the first major corporate collection to come to the secondary market as the fight to quell the economic impact of the global pandemic continues. As offices remain closed throughout the U.S. and abroad, and industry-leading businesses reevaluate overhead costs—corporate art holdings are a prime target for the resale market in securing upcoming consignments.
The airline’s collection was amassed by curatorial firm Artwise over a period of 12 years. According to the firm’s website, the carrier’s collection comprises more than 1,500 works representing a host of artists including Chris Ofili, Janet Cardiff, Anish Kapoor, Donald Judd, Berndt and Hilla Becher, and Tracey Emin.
Included in the auction along with Riley’s are works by British contemporary staples such as George Shaw, and editions by Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Julian Opie, and Peter Doig.