A rare Vincent van Gogh painting that once belonged to Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor is going under the hammer at Christie’s this spring.
Taylor was a lifelong collector who assembled one of the greatest American jewelry collections, but she also had a great passion for art, especially French Impressionism, according to Architectural Digest. Her Bel Air living room was filled with works by the likes of Degas, Matisse, Pissaro, and Van Gogh’s magnificent Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy (1889), painted in the final year of the artist’s life.
Although this was a deeply distressing period of the artist’s troubled career, it was also one of the most fruitful—he created some of his most magnificent works, including Starry Night and his series of Olive Trees.
The centerpiece of Taylor’s art collection depicts the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence asylum where the troubled artist committed himself in 1888. During his stay at the asylum, Van Gogh painted roughly 150 canvases, but this is the only work that showed the institution from the outside.
Following the artist’s death in 1890, the painting was on view at Van Gogh’s landmark 1905 retrospective at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. It was subsequently included in leading dealer Paul Cassirer’s traveling exhibition in Germany, which contributed to the popularization of the artist’s work among the general public, collectors, and academics.
Taylor’s father, the art dealer Francis Taylor, bought the painting on her behalf at auction in 1963 for £92,000 ($130,000), and it remained in her collection until her death in 2011. In 2012, Christie’s auctioned the late actress’s estate, selling the Van Gogh in the house’s London sale of Impressionist and Modern art for £10.1 million ($16 million).
Now, this May, Christie’s is putting the painting back on the market in its Impressionist and Modern art sale in New York, with pre-sale estimates in the region of $35 million. In November, a comparable Van Gogh work from the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass collection sold for $81.3 million against its original estimate of $50 million, just short of the artist’s $82.5 million auction record. Although Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy will probably not break Van Gogh’s record price, it is likely to sell for well above the pre-sale estimate due to the stability of the present art market and increasing demand for bankable, blue-chip art.
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern sale will also include Marc Chagall‘s Le Tour Eiffel (1929), estimated at $6–9 million, and Fernand Léger‘s Le grand déjeuner (1921), estimated at $15–25 million.