Macklowe’s $600M art collection lands at Sotheby’s for auction

Court-ordered sale of lavish portfolio will occur in two parts starting in November

Macklowe Properties CEO Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe with pieces of their art collection (Sotheby's, iStock, Getty)
Macklowe Properties CEO Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe with pieces of their art collection (Sotheby's, iStock, Getty)

A real estate power couple’s acrimonious divorce will soon be the art world’s gain when the most extravagant collection ever put up for auction faces bidders starting in November.

The Macklowe Collection — courtesy of developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife, Linda — has landed at Sotheby’s, the auction house announced Thursday. With an estimated value of more than $600 million, the collection will be sold in two parts: the first in November and the second in May.

Sotheby’s was one of at least three auction houses, including Christie’s and Phillips, invited to submit pitches for the liquidation, which was ordered by a judge during divorce proceedings after the bickering couple was unable to agree on the collection’s value.

The collection consists of 65 works, currently on display in an Upper East Side gallery. The November sale will comprise 34 works created in the 20th and 21st century, including Rothko’s “No. 7,” which is expected to go for $70 million. Another prized piece is Alberto Giacometti’s “Le Nez,” which should fetch a similar sum.

Highlights of the collection will be taken on tour, both virtually and in-person, to solicit interest from potential bidders. Pieces are expected to travel to Taipei, Hong Kong, Paris, London and Los Angeles.

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The collection could be a shot in the arm for the art auction market, which was hurt during the pandemic. Sales declined 30 percent from $25.2 billion in 2019 to $17.6 billion in 2020, according to a recent report.

The collection is one aspect of Macklowe’s fortune that was split down the middle after a bitter trial between Harry and his ex-wife. Harry Macklowe was able to retain $82 million in real estate holdings, but was forced to pay Linda $41 million as a result. The couple will split the proceeds of the art auctions evenly.

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[NYT] — Holden Walter-Warner