More Than 200 Artworks From the Collection of Gerald Fineberg Could Net $270 Million When They Hit the Block at Christie’s in May

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Some 220 artworks from the collection of the late Boston-based real estate magnate Gerald Fineberg will highlight a series of sales at Christie’s this spring, the auction house announced this week.

The majority of the artworks will be meted out across Christie’s May evening and day sales in New York, while a few additional pieces will be offered in subsequent events. Altogether, the group is estimated to fetch upwards of $270 million.

Fineberg, who died last December, amassed an impressive and diverse collection of artworks in recent decades—a habit that supposedly began with a chance encounter with Jean-Michel Basquiat at a New York gallery in the 1980s. 

Christopher Wool, Untitled (1993). Courtesy of Christie’s.

Highlights from his collection expected to hit the block at Christie’s include Gerhard Richter’s sensuous 1967 canvas, Badende, and an untitled 1993 Christopher Wool text painting, which reads in bright blocky letters, “FUCK EM IF THEY CANT TAKE A JOKE.” Both artworks carry a presale estimate of $15–$20 million. 

Pablo Picasso’s 1969 portrait is expected to go for $9–$12 million, while Barkley Hendricks’s 1971 depiction of friend and fellow artist Stanley Whitney, completed when both men were studying at Yale, comes with a high estimate of $7 million. 

Also included is a pair of portraits by Alice Neel. The first, Pregnant Betty Homitzky from 1968, is expected to bring in $1.5–$2 million. The second, The DeVegh Twins from 1975, comes with a slightly lower estimate of $1.2–$1.8 million. It hung in Fineberg’s bedroom. 

Gerhard Richter, Badende (1967). Courtesy of Christie’s.

​​”Jerry was a collector who thought like a curator,” Christie’s Deputy Chairman of Post-War & Contemporary Art Sara Friedlander said in a statement. “When acquiring works, he considered not only what was missing from his collection but what he might not even know about yet. And when he got into a new movement or artist, he really went deep. That’s what makes this collection so unique and special.”

Additional artists represented in the soon-to-be-sold Fineberg collection include Ruth Asawa, Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell, and Man Ray. Prior to Christie’s May sales, those artists’ pieces and others will be sent out on an international touring exhibition. The show is on view now through Monday, March 20 at Christie’s London, and will soon make stops at the auction house’s branches in Hong Kong (April 3–6), San Francisco (April 12–15), Palm Beach (April 14–19), and, finally, Los Angeles (April 17–20). 

Alice Neel, Pregnant Betty Homitzky (1968). Courtesy of Christie’s.

A prominent member of the Massachusetts art scene, Fineberg served on the boards of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. A wall at the latter institution is named after him and his wife, Sandra Fineberg.

But not everyone in Boston’s art scene viewed him so highly. In 2021, members of the Fineberg Tenants Union staged a rally at the ICA in protest of living conditions at properties owned and operated by Fineberg’s firm. The group also staged a pop-up show called “Fineberg’s Cultural Legacy,” which included eviction notices and documentation of neglected homes around the city. 

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