September 19, 2018
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Sale of Rockefeller art, Maine estate raises more than $650M

The Associated Press
Updated:

A collection of artwork put together by billionaire David Rockefeller that includes pieces from Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe brought in more than $646 million on the first night of an auction.

Highlights of the Tuesday sale at Christie’s included “Young Girl with a Flower Basket,” a 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso, which fetched $115 million, the second-highest price at auction for the artist.

[Rockefeller’s will leaves art, millions of dollars, a Maine island]

Paintings by Claude Monet and Henri Matisse also garnered new record prices for the artists. Monet’s “Water Lilies in Bloom,” completed between 1914 and 1917, sold for a record $84.6 million and Matisse’s “Odalisque reclining with magnolias” sold for a record $80.7 million.

Christie’s says the proceeds will be distributed to a number of philanthropies Rockefeller and his wife, Peggy, supported in their lifetimes.

Some of the entities benefiting from Rockefeller’s will include organizations in Maine, including on Mount Desert Island, where members of the Rockefeller family have spent their summers for more than a century.

Forbes Media has reported that the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve, the board of which includes three of his children as members, will receive $20 million from Rockefeller’s estate. In 2015, just before his 100th birthday, he also gave approximately 1,000 acres of contiguous land on Mount Desert Island to the land and garden preserve.

Rockefeller also left $5 million to land conservation group Maine Coast Heritage Trust; gave Buckle Island, a small uninhabited island off MDI, to his daughter Eileen; and bequeathed a painting by Andrew Wyeth titled “River Cove” (seen below) to the Portland Museum of Art.

In February his former 14.5-acre oceanfront estate on MDI, called Ringing Point, was sold for $19 million to an entity named Ringing Point LLC. According to the Mount Desert Islander newspaper and Vanity Fair, The privately held company is owned and controlled by Mitchell Rales, a billionaire who owns a summer home in neighboring Northeast Harbor and who is majority owner of the Islesford Dock restaurant on Little Cranberry Island.

[What Acadia means to the Rockefeller family]

Rockefeller was the last surviving grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller when he died in March 2017 at the age of 101.

He and Peggy had been married for more than 50 years. She died in 1996.

The couple amassed a massive collection of art, furniture, ceramics, statuary and decor. The collection also includes items that were passed down from previous Rockefeller generations.

Tuesday’s evening sale focused on 19th and 20th century art, and includes works from Paul Gauguin and Georges Seurat.

Art of the Americas will go on the block on Wednesday night. It includes works from Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper and John Singer Sargent.

Other sale sessions at Christie’s will focus on furniture, ceramics and decorations, while an online auction will offer personal mementos, lamps and lighting, and tableware.

Among the high-profile items? A porcelain dessert service that Napoleon took with him into exile.

BDN writer Bill Trotter contributed to this report.

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