Single-collection sales from illustrious owners often fetch prices beyond the importance of the works themselves, as bidders vie for souvenirs from lifestyles of the rich and famous. The Mellon pedigree undoubtedly helped tonight’s buoyant blowout at Sotheby’s, irrespective of the fact that the cream of the collection had already gone to museums that the philanthropic Mellons strongly supported, including the National Gallery of Art and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Here’s the scene at Sotheby’s (a Diebenkorn flanked by two Rothkos):
Here’s Sotheby’s post-sale report.
Below is my running Twitter commentary on tonight’s lively auction.