Artworks from the estate of the late actor Dennis Hopper, a self-described “gallery bum,” will be auctioned by Christie’s on Nov. 10 and 11 in New York.
The collection is studded with works by Warhol and Basquiat. The specific pieces are still being determined by the auction house, yet the group is expected to sell for more than $10 million. Hopper died of prostate cancer in May at the age of 74.
“It’s an artist’s collection, it’s not the collection of a banker or mogul. It’s the collection of a creative artist,” said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas.
Sale highlights so far include Warhol’s 1971 “Portrait of Dennis Hopper,” representing the actor as a soulful cowboy in blues and grays. The 40-inch-square canvas is expected to sell for as much as $1.2 million. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s densely filled 1987 “Untitled,” in acrylic, oil stick and graphite, has a high pre-sale estimate of $7 million. The painting had hung in the living room of Hopper’s Frank Gehry-designed Venice Beach, California, home.
Hopper said in a 1999 interview that he had paid $17,000 for the painting around 1988, just before Basquiat’s death. Hopper claims he was offered $1 million for the same painting two months after Basquiat’s death.
Hopper’s interest in the arts, according to Christie’s, stemmed from his friendship with actor James Dean, with whom he acted in the 1955 “Rebel Without a Cause.”
In a press release, Christie’s quoted Hopper saying: “I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City. I thought painting, acting, directing and photography was all part of being an artist. I have made my money that way and I have had some fun. It has not been a bad life.”
Hopper took up photography, shooting his own celebrity-filled world. This summer “Dennis Hopper Double Standard,” a chronicle of Hopper’s own photos is on view at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Painter Julian Schnabel, a longtime friend of Hopper’s, curated the show.
Hopper’s art collecting began in the 1950s and he preferred the new and brash, selecting works by Claes Oldenburg, Richard Prince, John Baldessari, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Robert Rauschenberg.
“My idea of collecting is not going out and buying bankable names but buying people that I believe are really contributing something to my artistic life,” said Hopper in the 1999 interview.
At the time of his death, Hopper was enmeshed in a contentious divorce with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy. His acting credits also include “Easy Rider,” and “Apocalypse Now.”