Pieces of the Bass family art collection, including some that were on loan to the Kimbell Art Museum, will be auctioned in New York this month and are expected to sell for more than $120 million, according to the Christie’s auction house.
Christie’s will be selling 36 pieces of art, including Vincent Van Gogh’s “Labourer dans un champ,” or “Enclosed Field with Ploughman,” which should bring about $50 million, a Christie’s spokeswoman said. The collection will be offered as part of Christie’s 20th Century Week set for Nov. 13-16.
Besides the Van Gogh, works by Mark Rothko, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse also will be sold. Since the Basses were widely known for being patrons of the arts and discerning collectors, the sale is expected to be met enthusiastically by collectors around the world.
“The Basses collected quietly, eclectically and with the guidance of the best — William Acquavella, Klaus Perls, E.V. Thaw — over nearly forty years. The results speak for themselves — one of the last great American collections of Impressionist, Modern and Post-War art,” said Max Carter, head of Christie’s department of Impressionists and Modern Art in New York.
The art collection was compiled by the late Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, mother and father to the billionaire Bass brothers — Sid, Ed, Robert and Lee. Their collection took several decades to gather.
Some of the artwork was on loan to the Kimbell for more than two years — including five or six paintings that were displayed as “guests of honor” with the museum’s collection — but were removed in late August and early September. They were all displayed in 2015 as part of an exhibit in the museum’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion.
A Christie’s spokeswoman said some of the artwork displayed at the Kimbell is not included in the auction, but she didn’t know what the family is doing with those pieces. At one time many of the paintings were displayed in a great room of the Bass’s Fort Worth home that was originally a basketball court.
Representatives for the Bass family could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Kimbell Art Museum Director Eric Lee earlier praised the collection as “absolutely fantastic,” representing some of the greatest artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
“A sale like this is a rare event. Works of art like the Van Gogh do not become available very often. It also is uncommon to have works available from a collection such as the Basses,” Lee said.
Highlights of the artwork, which will be on view in New York starting Saturday, has already toured around the world with showings in Hong Kong and London.
Carter said in a statement that the collection is led by five museum-quality masterworks including the Van Gogh from 1889, which he called the “finest landscape by the artist to appear at auction in years.”
Other artworks in the sale include Miró’s “Peinture,” a painting from 1933 that is estimated to go for $18 million to $25 million; Henri Matisse’s “Les régates de Nice” from 1921, listed at $12 million to $18 million; and Kees van Dongen’s “Portrait de Madame Malpel” from 1908, listed at $7 million to $10 million.
Highlighting the selection of post-war and contemporary art, which will be sold on Nov. 15, is Rothko’s untitled painting from 1969 that may fetch $10 million to $15 million.
This story contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.