Sotheby’s kicks off a series of four actions Wednesday in New York featuring the art collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman, a former owner and chairman of the auction house. The 500-lot collection is estimated to fetch $500 million, making it the most valuable private art collection ever at auction, the company said.
The collection ranges from Old Master paintings to contemporary works of art like Pablo Picasso’s 1938 portrait “Femme assise sur une chaise” (“Woman Seated in a Chair”), which could go for between $25 million and $35 million. Other contemporary artists who make a showing at the first auction on Wednesday include Edgar Degas, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Alberto Giacometti.
Taubman, a son of Polish immigrants who settled in Michigan, was a shopping mall tycoon worth billions. He bought Sotheby’s (BID) for $124.8 million in 1983 and rejuvenated the floundering British auction house. He was the principal owner for 22 years, until 2005 when he sold his majority ownership in the wake of a commission-fixing scandal with Christie’s that landed him in jail for almost 10 months. He passed away in April at the age of 91.