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Sotheby's to Present Property from the Collection of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller this Fall

  • Auktion
    Sotheby's to Present Property from the Collection of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller this Fall
    13.11.2018

A MODERNIST VISION: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF NELSON & HAPPY ROCKEFELLER Dedicated Auction 13 November 2018

Through his close relationships with friend and architect Wallace K. Harrison, the esteemed designer Jean-Michel Frank, MoMA founder Alfred Barr Jr., and avant-garde artists such as Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger, Nelson Rockefeller turned his Manhattan residence into an artistic masterpiece.

The original 5th Avenue apartment was created in the late 1930s by Rockefeller and Wallace K. Harrison. In the fall of 1938, Nelson approached Frank to commission fine art and design for his magnificent residence. The two worked together from 1938 through 1940 and designed the space to realize Rockefeller’s exceptional vision: a space that resembled “Louis XV, but modern”. They collaborated on every detail, ranging from the material of wall brackets, to the color palette of the murals created by Fernand Léger and Henri Matisse to sit atop two fireplaces in the residence, as well as a complementary carpet design by Christian Bérard. A testament to Frank’s precision in decorating the residence, the designer rendered full-scale maquettes of the apartment to envision the spatial relationships and visual cohesion of the works in the interior.

Frank commissioned Alberto Giacometti to design a suite of gilt au mercure bronze furnishings, including a pair of regal Consoles (estimates $700,000/1,000,000, respectively), a “Grecque” Table Lamp (estimate $150/200,000), and a Pair of Andirons (estimate $200/300,000), among others. Frank believed strongly that the design work of Giacometti had a remarkable kinship both with antiquity and with the fine art of his contemporaries. The luxurious gilt surfaces of Giacometti’s bronze furniture and lighting fulfilled Nelson’s quest for an opulent yet modern interior.

The striking sculptural presence of the Giacometti commissions imparted extraordinary dynamism to the space, which was complemented by a Carpet designed by Christian Bérard (estimate $80/120,000). Echoing the vibrant color palettes and energetic contours of the artwork adorning the walls, the carpet’s painterly floral motifs and lively rose-pink hue brought unity to the entire ensemble.

Later in the 1960s, Nelson acquired a trio of Tête de Femme Floor Lamps (estimates $200/300,000, respectively) by Giacometti, which are also included in the November sale.

Rockefeller also filled the apartment with original fine art by many iconic names of the avant-garde. Highlights from the original interior on offer this November include: a whimsically Purist oil of female hairdressers by Massimo Campigli, regarded as the pinnacle of his oeuvre, appearing in the Venice Biennale shortly after its creation in 1936 (estimate $200/300,000); a unique and vibrantly painted ceramic in the shape of a condor by Pablo Picasso (estimate $500/700,000); and a multi-textural collage on sandpaper by Joan Miró (estimate $600/800,000).

Nelson’s diverse taste in art also encompassed works by leading Contemporary talents, such as Andy Warhol, whose portrait of the political luminary will be offered in the November sale (estimate $1/1.5 million). Executed in 1967, the present work is the last of four portraits commissioned by Nelson in the late 1960s, and fits squarely within Warhol’s oeuvre of fascination with fame and fortune. Nelson commissioned the series of canvases three years after he called for Warhol’s famed 13 Most Wanted Men mural, which adorned the New York State Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, to be covered with silver paint just days before the fair opened to the public.

MAGNIFICENT JEWELS Auction 4 December 2018
A wonderful selection of Happy Rockefeller’s jewelry will be offered within our December auction of Magnificent Jewels in New York. The collection bridges the high glamour of the 1960s and the playful exoticism of the 1970s, revealing a collector who enjoyed jewelry and appreciated the process of curating.

The centerpiece of the December offering is a stunning group of jewels by Van Cleef & Arpels – many of which were created especially for Happy by “special order.” The result of this collaboration is a selection of jewels that are cohesive, visually-interesting and truly one-of-a-kind, most notably an important and rare Mughal-inspired bracelet. Set with over 200 carats of tumbled emeralds and sapphires (estimate $150/250,000), its informal arrangement of valuable gemstones epitomizes the casual elegance of Happy’s jewelry collection.

A COLLECTING LEGACY: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF NELSON & HAPPY ROCKEFELLER Dedicated Auction January 2019

Nelson and Happy Rockefeller’s eclectic approach to collecting and living with diverse objects is represented in this dedicated sale of furniture and decorative arts, to be offered as part of our Americana Week sales series in January. Featuring approximately 400 lots, the sale boasts exceptional Chinese Export porcelain, Chinese and European ceramics and works of art, silver, fine art, Americana, books and manuscripts, prints, and Japanese works of art.






  • 13.11.2018
    Auktion »
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus »

    A MODERNIST VISION:
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF NELSON & HAPPY ROCKEFELLER
    Dedicated Auction 13 November 2018

    MAGNIFICENT JEWELS
    Auction 4 December 2018

    A COLLECTING LEGACY:
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF NELSON & HAPPY ROCKEFELLER
    Dedicated Auction January 2019



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  • Portrait of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller
    Portrait of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • 5th Avenue Apartment Interior
    5th Avenue Apartment Interior
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    Portrait of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Alberto Giacometti, Pair of Andirons
    Alberto Giacometti, Pair of Andirons
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • 9934 - Pablo Picasso, Condor
    9934 - Pablo Picasso, Condor
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Sapphire and Emerald Bracelet
    Sapphire and Emerald Bracelet
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Pink Tourmaline, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond Suite, Van Cleef & Arpels, France
    Pink Tourmaline, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond Suite, Van Cleef & Arpels, France
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus