Christie’s Will Auction More Masterworks From the Estate of the Late Media Tycoon S.I. Newhouse, Expecting to Surpass $144 Million

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Masterpieces from the estate of late Condé Nast tycoon Samuel Irving—or “S.I.”—Newhouse Jr. will hit the auction block at Christie’s this spring. 

Set for a yet-to-be-announced date in May during the auction house’s marquee sales week, the dedicated evening sale will include 16 pieces owned the late media magnate, who was widely recognized as one of the most influential collectors of his era. The announcement signals the Newhouse estate’s vote of confidence in the market off the back of the record $1.5 billion sale of the estate of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen last fall, which demonstrated the ongoing appetite for blue-chip fare of esteemed province.

Among the highlights are Willem de Kooning’s 1947 black-and-white collage, Orestes, which Newhouse acquired at Sotheby’s for $13.2 million in 2002, and which is now estimated to exceed $25 million; Francis Bacon’s distorted 1969 Self Portrait, expected to surpass $20 million; and Pablo Picasso’s L’Arlésienne, a 1937 abstract portrait of American photographer Lee Miller that is similarly predicted to bring in more than $20 million. (Exact estimates for these particular pieces in the auction are “available upon request,” per an announcement from Christie’s.) 

Other artworks set to be included are pieces by Lee Bontecou, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein. In total, the sale is expected to top $144 million. A specific date and time for the event have not yet been announced.

Francis BaconSelf Portrait (1969). Courtesy of Christie’s.
© 2023 The Estate of Francis Bacon.

“S.I. Newhouse’s brilliance was undeniable and his art collecting held a rare quality of excellence,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman in 20th and 21st century art, said in a statement. “As a collector, he bought and sold with the deepest levels of consideration and intention—which over decades, led to the evolution of a singular collection.”

Works from Newhouse’s collection have been trickling into the market since Newhouse died, a strategy that helps to avoid flooding the market with certain artists who Newhouse collected in depth. In 2018, the auction house sold Bacon’s Study of Henrietta Moraes Laughing (1969) for $21.7 million, just surpassing the artwork’s pre-sale estimate of $14 million to $18 million. The following year, the company offered 11 pieces from the Newhouse estate, including Jeff Koons’s stainless steel sculpture Rabbit (1986), which set an auction record for a living artist when a bidding war pushed the purchased price to a staggering $91.1 million.

Publisher S.I. Newhouse Jr. at the Conde Naste Building in New York City, 1989. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage.

The heir of Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr., founder of the umbrella media empire Advance Publications, Newhouse Jr. oversaw glossy magazines for Condé Nast—Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, among them. In his world-famous collection were pieces by generation-defining 20th-century artists such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lucien Freud, among others.

By the time of his death in 2017 at the age of 89, Newhouse was estimated to be worth more than $9 billion.

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