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Fore! Calder’s Portrait of John D. Rockefeller Golfing Heads to Auction

Alexander Calder, The Golfer (John D. Rockefeller), ca. 1927.


For those who miss out on the chance to buy works from the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection in landmark sales at Christie’s in New York this week, another piece of Rockefeller material will hit the block at the house the week following: a portrait by Alexander Calder of David’s father, oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., golfing.

Alexander Calder’s The Golfer (John D. Rockefeller), is estimated to sell for between $600,000 and $800,000 when it goes under the hammer on May 18 during the postwar and contemporary art morning auction at Christie’s in New York.

The wire and wood sculpture, which is dated to about 1927, was given by the artist to Nelson A. Rockefeller, the 41st vice president of the United States and son of John D. Rockefeller in 1958. After Nelson’s death in 1979, the work came into the possession of his wife, Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy “Happy” Rockefeller. Finally, in 2007, an unnamed collector who is selling the The Golfer acquired it from Happy.

An essay from Christie’s that accompanies the work notes that “Rockefeller was famed for his devotion to golf as both pastime and a way of preserving health.”

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