The other shoe in Christie’s announcement of the sale of dealers Thomas and Doris Amman’s personal art collection has dropped this morning as the auction house announces that it will hold a second sale dedicated to a single collection this May. Beginning the evening of May 9th with a sale of 36 works owned by the Ammanns, including the Shot Sage Blue Marilyn announced last month, Christie’s will hold all of its May sales culminating in the sale of the collection of Anne Bass and the 20th Century Evening sale on Thursday. This will stretch the all-important New York sales cycle across two weeks in May.
"What interests me about collecting is seeing what's happening today,” the auction house quotes Thomas Ammann from 1988 describing his own interest as a collector instead of a dealer. “I buy young people, and I buy them very early. I don't buy what I hear about, I buy what I see myself.” Ammann’s eye for talent proved prescient. Although much of the press attention around the sale with naturally fixate on the high-value Warhol Marilyn and some of the other eight-figure works, sophisticated collectors and the trade will be keen to see the catalogue and exhibition.
Today’s announcement focuses on six works by Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Elaine Sturtevant, Robert Ryman and Francesco Clemente. The Clemente comes to market at a time of renewed interest and market demand for artists like David Salle and Julian Schnabel who were also quite prominent in the 1980s.
In total, Christie’s will sell 100 works owned by the Ammanns. The evening sale will comprise 36 works and the remainder will appear in the Contemporary Day sale. Among the artists to be included are Brice Marden, Martin Kippenberger and Mike Bidlo. Christie’s points to the personal nature of the Ammann’s collecting and their strong ties to artists. “A number of works on offer come from the walls of the Ammann landmark home,” the release says, “a Bauhaus masterpiece with breathtaking views of Lake Zurich in addition to their other residences. It is both a curated capsule collection and a cross-generational survey of defining 20th century artistic practices.”
Beyond the Warhol Marilyn there is a large Warhol flower painting from 1964 measuring seven feet square estimated at $15 million. The work was included in the original Leo Castelli show from 1964 with two others of this size. Other examples of this format are in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.
A large Robert Ryman painting from 1961 also estimated at $15 million; an Elaine Sturtevant appropriation work from 1969 depicting a Lichtenstein girl is estimated at $600,000 even though the last time a similar work was offered at auction with a $600,000 estimate it sold for $3.4 million; Cy Twombly’s 1988 work Venere Sopra Gaeta is estimated at $10 million.
The final work included in Christie’s announcement today has the lowest estimate but may have provoke the most interest among the art trade. Francesco Clemente’s work has a minimal presence on the public secondary market. But his reputation as a painter and steady museum representation over the past four decades suggest that if the right work comes to market there will be an on-rush of demand.