Auction  September 14, 2023  Editors of Art & Object

Collection of Art Patron Emily Fisher Landau to Bring in $400 Million at Auction

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Pablo Picasso, Femme à la montre, 1932. Detail of face. Oil on canvas. 51 ¼ x 38 inches. 

This fall, over one hundred works from the collection of art patron Emily Fisher Landau will come to auction at Sotheby’s where they are estimated to bring in over $400 million. 

Works by Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Henri Matisse, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko, among many other artists will be offered across two sales on November 8 and 9. In anticipation of this sale, exhibitions will be staged around the world enabling the public to view the works before they head to their new homes.

Fisher Landau, who died in March at the age of 102, began collecting due to an unfortunate event, the 1969 theft of her prized collection of jewelry. Using the insurance proceeds from Lloyd's of London, Fisher Landau started a new chapter of collecting, with art.

Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Pink Tulip, 1925. Oil on canvas, 32 x 12 inches. 

She began her collecting with works by Picasso, Fernand Léger, and Jean Dubuffet acquired from Pace Gallery, where gallery owner Arne Glimcher guided her and introduced her to the New York art scene. Through Glimcher, Fisher Landau met many luminaries of the period including Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, and Mark Rothko, befriending them, visiting them at the studio, and acquiring works that appealed to her.

In the 1980s, her collecting turned toward contemporary artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Louise Nevelson, Nan Goldin, and Robert Mapplethorpe.

She was also a great supporter of institutions, and joined the board of the Whitney Museum of American art in the mid-1980s where she would spend the coming decades endowing the Whitney Biennial exhibitions, one of the country’s premiere stages for emerging American artists. Fisher Landau preserved her legacy for the future and her connection with the museum when, in 2010, she donated almost 400 works from her collection. 

One of the earliest paintings she acquired, in 1968, was Picasso’s 1932 painting Femme à la Montre. It remained in her collection for over five decades. A portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s famed “golden muse”. It was painted just following his first major retrospective at Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. He had met Walter a few years earlier in 1927, when she was seventeen, and he was 45, and they began a now-legendary affair, while he was still married to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova. The work is estimated to bring in over $120 million.

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