Madonna, DiCaprio, Allen Boost $1.3 Billion May Auctions

Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen could help sell as much as $1.3 billion of art at the three New York auction houses this month.

Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips are holding their semi-annual sales of Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art this week and next.

While there’s nothing akin to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which fetched $120 million at Sotheby’s last May, 11 lots are expected to bring $20 million or more.

Here are the highlights:

A 1921 painting by Fernand Leger depicting three women at a table, which used to hang in the bedroom of Madonna’s New York apartment, is going on the auction block at Sotheby’s on May 7. With an estimate between $5 million to $7 million, the work is being sold to benefit the Ray of Light Foundation that supports educational projects and training for women.

Also at Sotheby’s, Paul Cezanne’s “Les Pommes” (estimate: $25 million to $35 million). The apple assortments is part of a collection assembled by inventor and entrepreneur Alex Lewyt and his wife Elisabeth comprising 200 pieces expected to fetch more than $60 million.


Another sensation of the Lewyt collection is Amedeo Modigliani’s 1909 “L’Amazone,” a portrait of Baroness Marguerite de Hasse de Villers in equestrian dress and chiseled, mask-like face (estimate: $20 million to $30 million).

At Christie’s on May 8, the top lot is a charming Chaim Soutine 1927 portrait of a young pastry chef (estimate $16 million to $22 million).

Another highlight of the sale is Andre Derain’s lush 1905 painting, “Madame Matisse au Kimono,” which marked the beginning of Fauvism (estimate: $15 million to $20 million).

The week of postwar and contemporary sales will start on May 13 at Christie’s with a benefit auction organized in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “The 11th Hour Charity Auction” includes pieces by 33 contemporary artists, who donated their works to raise money for environmental projects and endangered species. With pieces by Neo Rauch, Rudolf Stingel and Zeng Fanzhi, the group is expected to tally $13 million to $18 million.

Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman’s monumental 1953 “Onement VI” is heading to the block at Sotheby’s on May 14, consigned by Paul Allen (estimate: $30 million to $40 million).

In the same sale, Gerhard Richter’s 1968 “Domplatz, Mailand [Catherdral Square, Milan]” recalls World War II-era imagery. Originally commissioned by the Siemens Corporation, it was the largest painting Richter had done up to that point. The work hung in the Siemens Milan office for 30 years, until 1998 when it was sold at Sotheby’s for $3.65 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat could set a new auction record at Christie’s on May 15, with his 1982 painting, “Dustheads” (estimate: $25 million to $35 million).

Drip Painting

Another highlight at Christie’s is “Number 19,” a 1948 drip painting by Jackson Pollock (estimate $25 million to $35 million).

The highest estimate of the season belongs to the final evening sale at the smallest of the three auction houses. Phillips scored “Four Marilyns,” Andy Warhol’s 1962 canvas on which four yellow-haired images of Marilyn Monroe are set against an orange background.

While the estimate is listed “upon request,” Michael McGinnis, the company’s chief executive officer, said he expected the work to bring $35 million to $50 million.

Muse highlights include Frederik Balfour on Hong Kong art,

Manuela Hoelterhoff on opera and Elin McCoy on whisky.

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