Are the world’s top auction houses themselves bidding for art? That appears to be the case this week, as the heirs of Donald B. Marron, the financier and longtime ARTnews Top 200 Collector who died in December, have reportedly asked the major houses to submit proposals for the right to sell works from his esteemed collection of modern and contemporary art. Katya Kazakina of Bloomberg first reported the news on Tuesday.
According to Bloomberg, the collection has been valued at $450 million. Coupled with a $700 million group of 65 works from collectors Harry and Linda Macklowe, over $1 billion of art could be up for grabs in the secondary market as early as this May, when the houses will hold their major evening sales in New York. The Macklowes, who were ordered to sell the works as part of their divorce proceedings, have also asked for the houses to submit proposals to sell their art.
Marron is best known for amassing a major collection of work for his brokerage firm PaineWebber. He bought 850 works over two decades, and his collection included works Jenny Holzer, Jasper Johns, Elizabeth Murray, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. When PaineWebber merged with UBS, the collection became the UBS Art Collection, much of which has been on display and promised to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where Marron was a lifetime trustee and president emeritus. The art he acquired for the firms was displayed throughout the offices.
“Wall Street anticipates the future,” he told Michael Shnayerson in a profile for ARTnews. “Why limit yourself to financial ways of doing it? Good contemporary art reflects the society, and great contemporary art anticipates. Why not collect, and have our people exposed to it?”
According to the Bloomberg report, Marron’s latest acquisition was a Brice Marden drawing that was exhibited at the artist’s recent solo show at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue space in November. While it would be some time before an official announcement is made as to what from Marron’s collection will head to auction, works seen as potential top lots include a portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso and a 1957 Rothko.