Five pieces from the collection of the filmmaker and architect François de Menil and his wife, Susan, will go up for sale at Christie’s in New York as part of its November evening sale of postwar and contemporary art, with the star of the bunch being a 1964 Mark Rothko painting that is estimated to sell for between $35 million and $45 million.
The Rothko, Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum), dates from the same year that François’s parents, the legendary collectors Dominique and John de Menil, commissioned the artist to make a suite of paintings for what is now the Rothko Chapel in their adopted home base of Houston. Dominique at one point borrowed the dark-hued work from Rothko for a show at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where she was chairman of its art history department, though it remained in the artist’s collection until his death in 1970. François acquired the piece through the Pace Gallery in 1978, the same year as the artist’s Guggenheim retrospective.
The other four works coming from the Menils are by Joseph Cornell, all dated between the 1930s and 1948. The top lot in that section is the New York artist’s box Untitled (Medici Slot Machine), 1942, which is expected to sell in the region of $5 million.