A foundation set up by media mogul and CBS founder William Paley will sell a trove of artworks at Sotheby’s that have long been on loan to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The groups of works, which include paintings and sculptures by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, and Auguste Rodin are expected to fetch a collective $70 million at auctions in New York and London this fall.
On Wednesday, Sotheby’s announced plans by Paley’s namesake foundation to sell off 29 of the some 80 artworks that have been in the MoMA’s care since Paley’s death in 1990. A majority of the proceeds will go towards expanding the museum’s digital footprint, Sotheby’s said in a statement. Plans for MoMa’s digital initiatives include the potential launch of a streaming channel and digital art acquisitions.
Among the works set to be auctioned off include Pablo Picasso’s 1919 Cubist still life Guitar on a Table, which carries an estimate of $20 million. It will be sold during a New York evening sale on November 14. Francis Bacon’s 1963 small-format triptych, Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, will be offered with an estimate of $35 million on October 14 during a London sale. Other works by Andre Derain, Pierre-August Renoir, Joan Miro and Pierre Bonnard will also be sold during November and October evening sales.
Paley joined the museum’s board in 1937 just eight years after the institution was founded, while still a rising media executive and nascent in his career as a modern art collector. Going on to serve as the museum’s president and chairman, his donorship to the New York institution continued posthumously. Through the foundation, Paley constructed a partnership with MoMA that has allowed the museum for decades to decide how the collection could be displayed or how to use proceeds from an eventual sale of the works.
Glenn D. Lowry, MoMa’s director, described the forthcoming sale as, “a testament” to Paley’s “visionary philanthropy,” praising the move as part of Paley’s 1990 bequest, for “anticipating the needs of the museum” over the course of thirty years.
According to the foundation’s current president, the philanthropist’s son, Bill Paley, the organization worked with the museum’s curators to select which works would be auctioned. A portion of the sale proceeds will go towards the foundation’s causes, which supports institutions across the arts, medicine, and media.