Paley Foundation to Auction Works by Bacon, Picasso, Renoir, and More
Pieces from the William S. Paley collection currently held by MoMA will be sold at Sotheby's in London and New York to raise funds for new acquisitions and digital initiatives.
André Derain, Bords de Seine à Chatou circa (1906). Oil on canvas. Estimate $2,500,000-3,500,000. New York: Modern Art Evening Sale, 14 November. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Twenty-nine artworks from the collection of former CBS Chief and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Chair William S. Paley (1901–1990) will go under the hammer during Sotheby's fall season.
This will be the first time in at least half a century that many of these works have been seen at auction. They're anticipated to bring in upwards of US $70 million.
First to go under the hammer is Francis Bacon's small-format triptych Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (1963), which is estimated to fetch over £30 million (US $34 million) at Sotheby's London during Frieze Week in October.
The remaining works will be sold at various Sotheby's New York auctions through April 2023. Highlights include a small bronze figure by Auguste Rodin and a seminal cubist work by Pablo Picasso, Guitare sur une table (1919), which is estimated to fetch US $20–30 million.
Proceeds from the sale will go to the Paley Foundation, Paley Centre for Media, the Greenpark Foundation and a sizeable endowment for MoMA.
'It's deeply satisfying that the Foundation is able to use this group of works from his collection to further support MoMA, to which he was so dedicated' said William C. Paley, the collector's son and Vice President of the William S. Paley Foundation.
Paley, who was instrumental in transforming Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc (CBS) into an American broadcasting giant in the 1920s and an adventurous collector of modern avant garde art, developed a close relationship with MoMA.
First championing the then new art institution as a trustee in 1937, Paley rose to the position of Chairman and Chairman Emeritus over the next five decades while guiding the museum in purchasing key works by Picasso, Odilon Redon, and Paul Cézanne, among others.
'While many collectors shape their collections around that of the great museums, William S. Paley forged his own path, assisting MoMA in assembling its great collection and thereby influencing the appreciation of modern art across America', said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby's Fine Art Division Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales.
Upon his death Paley's personal collection of 81 artworks came under the Paley Foundation and the stewardship of MoMA. It was jointly decided by the Foundation and MoMA this year to sell off the 29 artworks to further both organisations' efforts to increase their reach.
MoMA Director Glen Lowry divulged to The Wall Street Journal some ways money raised from the sales could be spent. Ideas include launching a streaming channel for art-related content, collaborating with universities and education providers to offer online courses, and the acquisition of art NFTs.
While MoMA doesn't currently hold any NFTs in its collection, last year it supplied digital artist Refik Anadol with the museum meta-database, which was funnelled through an AI program to make NFTs. None of these were purchased by the museum, however.
Lowry said in a statement, 'It is a testament to the visionary philanthropy of William S. Paley that the bequest he made through his Foundation anticipated that, over time, the needs of the Museum would evolve in ways that could not have been foreseen or even imagined 30 years ago.' —[O]