David Bowie’s art collection went to auction on Thursday, shattering first-day sales expectations by over $20 million, Rolling Stone reports.
Forty-seven of the collection’s most high-profile pieces, including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst, garnered big dollars as they hit the auction block in the two-day event, which is expected to sell off a total of 350 works.
Collectively, the pieces account for 65 per cent of Bowie’s extensive art collection. “[Bowie] used his art to understand his place in the world,” curator Beth Greenacre told the magazine. “He was an amazing historian. He was always looking backward to understand the present – and even prophesied about the future, I think.”
Basquiat’s “Art Power” (pictured above), for example, sold for $5.5 million above its pre-auction estimate of $3.3 million. Bowie purchased the piece in 1995 for $120,000, one year before appearing as Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s 1996 biopic, “Basquiat”.
Bowie’s collaboration with contemporary artist Hirst, a circular canvas piece titled “Beautiful”, tripled its pre-auction estimate, selling for $939,000.
“Bowie was a true collector,” art advisor Christina Shearman told The New York Times. “His acquisitions were not commercially motivated; he cared about the art, not the market. His was a deeply personal, eclectic collection, reflecting his British roots and his real passion for art.”
Bids for Bowie’s pieces came in from over 46 countries, with Sotheby’s London selling off every piece in the lot.