Christie’s to Auction Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge

Christie’s announces it has been selected to present the sale of Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge Sold to Benefit Columbia University, a large and wide-ranging collection of artwork, furniture and decorative arts that will be offered for sale in several major auctions, starting with four important sculptures by Henry Moore and Aristide Maillol in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on November 1, and several Egyptian and Roman works in the Antiquities sale December 7, both in New York. The collection being offered at Christie’s is part of a $400 million gift from Mr. Kluge to Columbia University. Earmarked exclusively for student scholarships, it is the largest gift ever devoted to student aid at a single institution of higher education in the U.S.

Henry Moore (1898-1986), Figure in Shelter, signed and numbered ‘Moore 4/6’ (on the top of the base), bronze with golden brown patina. Height (including base): 72 in. (182.9 cm.). Conceived in 1985 and cast in the artist’s lifetime. Estimate 1,500,000 – 2,500,000 U.S. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2011.

Assembled over the course of several decades, Mr. Kluge’s impressive collection is a fitting tribute to the broad liberal arts education he received at Columbia University, which he attended on scholarship and graduated from in 1937.

“We are extremely pleased to offer Henry Moore?s Figure in a Shelter, a powerful culmination of the artist?s decades-long exploration of Internal/External” sculpture, as part of our very strong Impressionist and Modern art sales this fall,” said Conor Jordan, Head of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department in New York. “Additionally, Mr. Kluge?s fine bronzes by Maillol epitomize the artist?s masterful blending of classical and modern sculptural styles in his homage to both idealized and natural beauty.”

“Christie?s is very proud of our long-standing relationship with Mr. Kluge, which dates back to our first sale of his antiquities collection, the Morven Collection of Ancient Art, in June 2004, which performed well beyond our estimates. That sale was followed by a successful sale of more than 500 of his fine and decorative art objects in December 2005. We look forward to achieving similar success on behalf of Columbia University?s student scholarship fund with Mr. Kluge?s remaining art and furniture collection,” he added. In addition, Christie’s International Real Estate has been appointed to sell Mr. Kluge’s prominent Palm Beach estate, with proceeds to go to the same Columbia student scholarship fund. The property is listed at $59,000,000.

Named the richest man in America three times by Forbes magazine, John W. Kluge was best known for his business acumen and the fortune he earned as founder and chairman of Metromedia. His lasting legacy, however, will be felt in the arts and education, given the sheer size of his gift to Columbia’s student scholarship program and the vastness of his art collection.

From a young age, he recognized the value of an education. At age 14, he moved from his German immigrant parents’ home in Detroit, Mich., into his teacher’s home to dedicate himself more fully to his education. He devoted his formative years to building a strong foundation of learning that would inform so many of the successes that he achieved in his lifetime.

This focus and drive led him to Columbia University, where he earned a scholarship and began a lifelong relationship with the university. The liberal arts grounding Mr. Kluge received there paid dividends as he eventually amassed an impressive and varied collection of art and decorative art objects. He continually demonstrated his dedication to education and the liberal arts throughout his career, lifestyle and philanthropy.

It is therefore appropriate that the university that helped shape Mr. Kluge’s future would be the place that he decided to give back the most. “If it hadn?t been for Columbia, my path would have been entirely different in life. Columbia gave me an opportunity, and the only way you can really repay that opportunity is for you to help someone else,” Kluge said at his 90th birthday celebration.

“For all who knew and admired John Kluge,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, “it is clear that the purpose of this auction speaks directly to what he valued most: the fundamental importance of education; the responsibility of institutions of higher learning to open their doors to people from every socio-economic background; and the duty of those who have succeeded in life to give back and support those who need it. It is a fitting tribute to the memory of a great man whose enormous generosity ensures that generations of young people will be able to benefit from a Columbia education regardless of their family’s income.”

Mr. Kluge’s appreciation for the arts was expansive, but his tastes were highly selective, as demonstrated by the four excellent sculptures included in the November 1 Evening Sale.

Among the last works created by the prolific and widely collected Henry Moore (1898-1986) is Figure in a Shelter, conceived in 1983 and cast in his lifetime (estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000). This 72-inch piece and two much larger 25-foot versions are the culmination of the theme he referred to as ?Internal and External Forms,? which Moore developed throughout his career. They were inspired in part by his impressions of Londoners in the Underground system taking shelter from the German aerial bombings during World War II, and in part by his fascination with armor and its protective function. They also echo his mother-and-child sculptures. One cast of Large Figure in a Shelter was installed in 1990 in Guernica, Spain, the town obliterated by shelling during the Spanish Civil War, evoking his 1940s drawings of those Londoners during the War and standing as a lasting plea for peace.

Another impressive piece from the collection was originally commissioned as a war memorial, Aristide Maillol’s (1861-1944) Monument à Port-Vendres, conceived in 1921 and cast in lead circa 1975 (estimate $1,200,000-1,800,000). Three French villages commissioned Maillol to create memorials for their fallen soldiers, and this one, originally submitted as a reclining nude Venus holding out a palm frond to the dead soldiers, was rejected by the wife of the mayor of Port-Vendres for its frank sensuality. Maillol reworked it as a draped figure, which was happily accepted. A cast lead version is on view today in Port-Vendres. The stylized proportions and elegant drapery reflect the influence of proto-classical traditions of French Renaissance artists as well as his interest in antique statuary of ancient Greece and Rome, where he had traveled extensively. His friend the poet Marc LaFarge observed in 1925 that Maillol “is to sculpture what Cezanne was to painting.”

A pair of bronze life-size female figures, L’Éte (estimate: $700,000-900,000) and Flore (estimate: $600,000-900,000), are closely related. The former belongs to a group of four statues created by Maillol between 1910 and 1912 for the renowned Russian art collector, Ivan Morosov, to adorn the corners of a neoclassical music room in his Moscow villa. Commonly known as Les Saisons, the group is less an allegory of the seasons than response to a mural depicting the myth of Psyche painted in the room by Maurice Denis in 1906. Echoing Psyche’s mythical transformation from human to immortal, these figures gave Maillol an opportunity to juxtapose the ideal of human feminine beauty with that of the divine. L’Éte represented a woman in the fullness of her fertility, contrasted with the younger figure representing spring. This version of Flore, the goddess of spring and flowers, was likely created after the commission for Morosov, but she was a favorite subject of Maillol’s, representing an allegory of a lithe, adolescent young woman.

In the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, November 2, will be three bronzes by the Italian sculptor, Giacomo Manzu (1908-1991): Cardinale, Guantanamera, and Dopo la Danza (estimates: $80,000-350,000), as well as a set of sculpted bronze gates, titled Portes, conceived in 1971 and cast in 1982, signed by Joan Miró (1893-1983) (unique; estimate: $150,000-250,000).

In addition to these four pieces of Modern sculpture, the collection encompasses paintings, drawings, and sculpture across diverse categories, including Antiquities, Old Masters, Impressionist and Modern Art, Post-War and Contemporary Art, and various Latin American, Russian, Asian, and Aboriginal Art, plus large holdings in furniture, silver and decorative arts. A dedicated sale will take place in 2012, and key works from the collection will be sold in specialized sales from November 2011 through mid-2012.

Egyptian art was sold in the Morven Collection of Ancient Art at Christie’s in June 2004, he kept several sculptures and vases on display in his homes in Palm Beach, Fla., and in St. Paul de Vence, France. Based on the success of the 2004 sale, with 197 lots selling for a total of more than $5,000,000, the present works are expected to attract keen interest from collectors at Christie’s Antiquities sale, December 7, in New York. These will include a monumental Roman bronze figure of an emperor, circa late 2nd – early 3rd century A.D. (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). It is a superbly cast figure in Polykleitan contra posto, exquisitely modeled, with attention to the fine contours of his body and naturalistic treatment of the details. In the June 2004 sale of Mr. Kluge’s Morven Collection, a bronze statue of an important Roman young god or athlete, circa 50 B.C.-50 A.D. sold for $1,351,500. Several ancient Roman sculptures in marble include a figure of Diana, the torso of a satyr and a reclining river god (estimates: $40,000-80,000). The sale will also include many ancient vases, including three richly decorated, red-figured Apulian kraters and an amphora from circa 330-300 B.C. (estimates: $20,000-$50,000), which were included in the traveling exhibition, The Art of South Italy, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere, May 1982-April 1983.

From Egypt, Mr. Kluge’s collection includes a beautiful bronze cat sculpture dating from the Third Intermediate Period (estimate: $400,000-600,000). It was one of Mr. Kluge’s favorite pieces of artwork, traveling with him among his four residences depending on the season. Nearly two feet in height, it is thought to be one of the largest of its kind to survive from the period of Dynasty XXII, to which it belongs stylistically. This was the era when the cult of the goddess Bastet—strongly associated with cats—rose to prominence along with the rulers who came from her home city of Bubastis in the Nile Delta. A finely detailed bronze statue of the Egyptian goddess Wadjet, the protectoress of the Pharaoh, is attributed to the same period as the bronze cat and is also about two feet high (estimate $500,000-700,000). She is seated above a diminutive figure of the god Heh, one of the deities who supports the heavens, with his arms raised, whose hieroglyphic sign came to mean “millions” or “many.” Together, they signified a wish for the Pharaoh to reign for millions of years.

Old Masters and other sales in 2012
In 2012, the oil painting, Still Life with Fruit, Ham and a Blue Box, circa 1658, (estimate: $400,000-600,000), by 17th century Flemish artist Cornelis de Heem (1631-1695), will be included in the January 25 sale of Old Master Paintings. The painting has the potential to rank among the top three prices for the artist’s work at auction. In the same sale will be a painting attributed to the circle of Arcimboldo, Fruit and Floral Allegories of the Four Seasons (estimate: $60,000-80,000).

Five other important Maillol sculptures will be included in spring 2012 sales of Impressionist and Modern Art. From Mr. Kluge’s French estate, Maillol’s L?Air, conceived in 1934 (estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000), is a larger-than-life representation of a woman reclining on her left side who appears to float gracefully, as though made of some substance much lighter than the lead of the actual figure. La baigneuse debout se coiffant, a life-size bronze figure (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000), stood in Mr. Kluge’s living room there. Three other Maillol bronzes, Vénus, Grief, and Pomone aux bras tombants, were situated in and around his Palm Beach home (estimates: $300,000-800,000).

Mr. Kluge’s collection of modern and contemporary sculpture is extensive, and includes six sculptures by Robert Graham (1938-2008), and a life-like polychrome bronze and mixed-media sculpture, Security Guard, by Duane Hanson (1925-1996), among other works by prominent artists. Further, his collection of furniture, porcelain, silver and decorative arts is vast, and is expected to perform well, based on the results of the 2005 sale of the John W. Kluge Morven Collection, which sold 99 percent by lot.

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