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A $500 Million Art Auction Kicks Off Today at Sotheby’s

Masterpieces From The Taubman Collection At Sotheby'sMasterpieces From The Taubman Collection At Sotheby's
Frank Stella's Delaware Crossing (est $8-12m) Picasso's Femme assise sur une chaise (est. $25-35) and Modigliani's Portrait de Paulette Jourdain (Estimate Upon Request) from the collection of A. Alfred Taubman are displayed as part of the Frieze week exhibition at Sotheby's on October 10, 2015 in London, England. The first of four auctions for the pieces begins in New York Wednesday.Photograph by Tristan Fewings--Getty Images

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.