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Picasso Masterpiece Valued at $120 Million to Headline Emily Fisher Landau’s Collection at Sotheby’s Auction


This fall, art enthusiasts and collectors around the world are eagerly anticipating the auction of the late New York philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau’s remarkable art collection. The collection, comprised of 120 works by influential artists such as Pablo Picasso, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Tansey, among others, promises to be a highlight of the art market. The auction, hosted by Sotheby’s, is scheduled for November 8 and 9 and is expected to make a significant impact with an estimated total value exceeding $400 million.

Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la montre” – A Highlight of the Collection

Among the standout pieces in Emily Fisher Landau’s estate collection is Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting, “Femme à la montre,” a portrait of the artist’s famous subject, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Paintings featuring Walter, recognised as Picasso’s young mistress, have historically fetched substantial prices at auctions, and this particular work is expected to be no exception. Sotheby’s describes it as a “definitive” work in Western art history, and its sale is anticipated to be a focal point of the auction.

Major Works and Their Anticipated Values

Aside from the Picasso masterpiece, Landau’s collection boasts several other significant artworks. Ed Ruscha’s “Securing the Last Letter (Boss)” from 1964 and an untitled painting by Mark Rothko from 1958, part of a series commissioned for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York’s Seagram Building, are expected to command substantial prices. Jasper Johns’ “Flags” from 1968 is projected to reach an estimated value between $35-45 million, while Andy Warhol‘s 1986 acrylic and silkscreen painting, “Self Portrait,” is expected to fall within the range of $15-20 million. Additional works by artists like Willem de Kooning and Georgia O’Keeffe will be offered at more accessible price points, ranging from $3 million to $6 million.

Emily Fisher Landau: A Collector with a Remarkable Legacy

Emily Fisher Landau, who passed away at the age of 102 in March, was not just a collector but also a former trustee at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her journey into the world of art began in the 1960s, and over the years, she developed personal connections with artists like Ed Ruscha, Mark Rothko, and Jasper Johns during their active years in New York. Her extensive collection includes works by a diverse array of modern and contemporary artists, including Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp, Franz Kline, and more. Her generous contributions to the Whitney Museum, exceeding 300 works by 2010, left an indelible mark on the art world.

Living Artists and Record-Breaking Works

The Emily Fisher Landau collection also features works by living artists, offering a dynamic blend of contemporary creativity. Glenn Ligon’s 1991 artwork “I Lost My Voice, I Found My Voice” stands out as a significant piece. Although Sotheby’s has not disclosed an estimate for this work, they anticipate it will set a new price benchmark for the artist. Ligon’s previous record was set in 2014 when his 1990 work “Untitled (I was Somebody)” sold for $3.9 million at Sotheby’s New York.

Anticipated Records: Mark Tansey’s “Triumph Over Mastery II”

Mark Tansey’s 1987 painting “Triumph Over Mastery II” is another highlight, expected to set a new record for the artist. This striking oil painting, depicting a shirtless figure against a vibrant red-toned background, is projected to fetch between $8 million and $12 million. Tansey’s previous record was established in 2018 when his 1988 oil painting “Source of the Loue” sold for $7.5 million at Sotheby’s.

Conclusion: A Defining Narrative of American Art

Emily Fisher Landau’s art collection, set to go to auction this fall, offers a comprehensive narrative of American art’s trajectory. The diversity of artists and styles in her collection paints an enduring picture of artistic innovation and evolution. As these exceptional works find new homes, they continue to contribute to the rich tapestry of art history, ensuring that Landau’s legacy lives on in the hearts of art lovers and collectors worldwide.

Feature Image: Pablo Picasso, Femme à la montre: Courtesy: Sotheby’s

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