A cache of modernist works was found in an American hospital

Willem de Kooning (pictured in his workshop, 1960-s) donated works to a hospital in Southampton, where he once got treatment.

Among those found in the back room are works by Willem de Kooning and Alexander Calder.

Workers at Stony Brook Hospital in Southampton New York were looking for space for extra beds and storage for ventilators. Instead, they found a warehouse with works by 20th-century artists, according to the New York Post.

The pieces were stacked in an old closet at the dialysis ward, about 120 pieces in total, mostly abstract expressionists. Among the names already named are Willem de Kooning and Alexander Calder, as well as Robert Desch (1931–2013), an American artist who lived his entire life in the same area, in the Hampton area. These are mainly lithographs, drawings, and several sculptures. Most of the works were created in the 1950s – 1980s.

Art consultant Vincent Manzo, who was invited for the preliminary examination, said that he was shaken when he saw that. At first, he did not want to go to the hospital in the midst of the pandemic, but, intrigued, he still went to do an examination. The consultant added that it was like opening the tomb of Tutankhamun.

It is believed that most of the works were donated to the hospital prior to the 1980s from artists who lived in this prestigious area of ​​Long Island.

Apparently, the artists who lived in the Hamptons donated their work at the suggestion of the owner of the local art gallery Elaine Benson, who was also the hospital’s director of public relations and regularly hosted charity auctions and gala concerts here. Benson died in 1988, and, apparently, after her death, the collection was forgotten.

It was decided to sell the found works. The profit will go to the hospital and the Southampton Historical Museum. The sale will be handled by the Kaminski auction, which is currently cataloging the collection. The auction will take place in Boston. Calder’s lithograph is estimated at about $ 3,000, de Kooning’s graphics – $ 1,000 per sheet. The general preliminary estimate of the work is about $ 100 thousand, although some experts believe that the amount may rise to a million.


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