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Christie’s to Sell David Rockefeller Estate for Charity with $700 M. Estimate, Aiming to Break Record for Most Valuable Collection Ever Auctioned

David Rockefeller.

COURTESY HARVARD UNIVERSITY

After decades housed partially in the complex that bears its name, the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller will be sold to the highest bidder at Rockefeller Center.

Christie’s announced today that in spring 2018, the house will auction off 2,000 items belonging to David Rockefeller—the last living grandson of formational American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.—who died earlier this year at 101—and his wife, who died in 1996. The series of sales will benefit a variety of charities long championed by the Rockefellers, including the Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rockefeller Fund.

The choice of auction house was not particularly a surprise, given that Christie’s has leased office space for its New York salesroom at Rockefeller Plaza since 1997, when it signed a 20-year lease.

“The Rockefeller family name is indelibly linked with arts, culture, business, and philanthropy around the world—and it is a fitting tribute that the auctions will be held at Christie’s New York in the heart of Rockefeller Center,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti.

With estimates in the $700 million range, it looks like the Rockefeller estate will break the record for most valuable collection ever sold at auction. The previous record was set by the collection of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, which rang up $484 million when it was sold at Christie’s in Paris in 2009.

David Rockefeller was a fervent supporter of the arts during his century-long life, and had a keen eye—a painting by Mark Rothko he bought in 1960 for $10,000 was sold at auction in 2007 for $72 million.

The estate, which includes European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, American decorative arts, and furniture in addition to Impressionist and modern works, will be sold off in several auctions, to be announced at a later date.

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