A group of 11 revolutionary works, led by the iconic Rabbit by Jeff Koons is expected to exceed $150 million when offered during 20th Century Week in New York in May.
I worked for S.I. Newhouse, who headed Condé Nast Publications, for a good part of my commercial career, in the art departments at Vogue, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, Allure and others. His editorial director, Alexander Liberman, was an artist and photographer of some note himself and the pages of Condé Nast magazines regularly featured new art and artists. Newhouse’s personal collection was one of the most important art of the 20th century and right into the 21st.
Tobias Meyer, Advisor to the Newhouse family said,
“Si personified the rare combination of a great intuitive eye and great intellectual curiosity. He read voraciously about the artists he admired, and nothing could stop him once he decided to acquire a work of art that measured up to his exacting standards.”
His wife, Victoria Newhouse said,
“Is loved the hunt for art. t was as much a part of his enjoyment of putting together a collection as living with the art.”
From Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-1890 to Andy Warhol’s Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965, the 11 works trace key developments in the evolution of modern art of the last century.
No work in the collection is as iconic and revolutionary as Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture, Rabbit. (Estimate: $50-70 million) It marks a pivotal moment in art history, no matter what your opinion of it is.
Unveiled at the Sonnabend Gallery’s New-Geo exhibition in 1986 (which I attended, btw) Rabbit signaled an end to previously held notions of traditional sculpture. One of an edition of four, it is is the sole example in private hands.
“You see in Si’s collection a very curious acceptance and kindness towards humanity, the understanding that things are complex.” — Tobias Meyer
Over the past three decades Rabbit has become a icon of contemporary art, exhibited in major museums like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney, Tate Modern, Versailles, The Broad, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.
We’ll see if it ends up back in private hands or one of the above institutions. It could very likely find a home in Walmart heiress, Alice Walton‘s Crystal Bridge museum. Or end up holding that carrot in Asia forever.