The sale of The Emily Fisher Landau Collection was historic in more ways than one. On Nov. 8, it became the most valuable collection devoted to a woman collector when all 31 lots of the evening auction at Sotheby’s sold for a combined $406.4 million. The following afternoon, an additional 80 lots sold for $18.3 million during the day auction, bringing the collection’s total to $424.7 million.
Pablo Picasso’s Femme à la montre, a portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter from 1932, sold for $139.4 million at Sotheby’s.
Highlighting the auctions was Pablo Picasso’s ‘Femme à la montre,’ a portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter from 1932, which sold for $139.4 million, the second highest price ever achieved for the artist at auction and the most valuable work of art sold at auction this year. Numerous other records were set, including with the collection’s next-highest lot, Jasper Johns’ Flags from 1986, which established a new high for a painting from his landmark series at $41 million. Rounding out the collection’s top three lots was Securing the Last Letter (Boss) by Ed Ruscha, an artist with whom Landau had a deep and lasting friendship. The painting sold for $39.4 million, the artist’s second-highest price at auction.
Jasper Johns’ oil and encaustic wax on canvas Flags from 1986 sold for $41 million.
The works on offer at Sotheby’s comprised only a part of Landau’s full collection, hundreds of works from which now reside in The Whitney Museum of American Art, where she served as a trustee for decades. Laudau’s legacy ranks among that of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Peggy Guggenheim, Gertrude Stein, and other great women collectors of the 20th century.
“Emily Fisher Landau’s prescient and unerring eye allowed us to shine a spotlight tonight onto the great artists who now form the bedrock of 20th-century art history,” said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Head of Global Fine Art, after the evening auction. “As every single lot found a new home, we saw the enduring appeal of these masters affirmed once again.”
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