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A nasty, high-profile divorce leads to Sotheby's most expensive art sale ever. For $922 mn

Sotheby's held its highest-priced auction in its history, thanks to a high-profile divorce between Harry & Linda Macklowe. Here are 16 of the 65 prized art pieces that bidders fought to get their hands on.

MONEY  |   3-minute read  |   18-05-2022

The last 6 months have been monumental for the art auction house Sotheby's, as it knocked off its own record of auctioning most expensive art sale ever at USD 922 million. Sotheby's has been busy handling attention from art lovers all over the globe, thanks to the high-profile divorce of the Macklowes. 


Harry and Linda Macklowe are a high-profile couple from New York who got a divorce in 2016. 

Harry and Linda Macklowe. Photo: Getty Images

If you are an art fanatic or have seen New York's tall skyscrapers, you might have have heard of Harry Macklowe from New York. Harry is a real-estate billionaire. Like many rich folks, he and his wife invested in many art pieces over their 57 years of marriage. But when they got a divorce, the court ordered the paintings to be auctioned off and the amount to be split between the two

As they say, someone's loss is another's gain.  


Thanks to a 2018 court order, art lovers around the world got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get their hands on the priceless collection of the Macklowes, that was meticulously curated by Linda Macklowe. The couple had curated about 65 art pieces in total which were to be sold through Sotheby's.

Unveiling The Macklowe Collection - the greatest collection of Modern & Contemporary Art ever to appear at auction. 65 iconic masterpieces will be offered in two stand-alone auctions in November 2021 & May 2022. #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) September 9, 2021

Sotheby's had initially estimated the paintings to be worth $700 million. That is about Rs 5,424 crore

The court ordered all of their spectacular art pieces to be sold off in two parts. The first part consisted of 35 paintings and was auctioned in November 2021 while the second part consisted of the remaining 30 paintings and was auctioned in May 2022. 

The first part of the auction made record sales, as all 35 paintings of the first lot were sold for a total of $676 million (about Rs 5,236 crore). 

The second part of the auction also made news because the 30 paintings sold for a total of $246 million (about Rs 1,905 crore), thus taking the total value of the collection to $922 million (about Rs 7,142 crore).  

#TheMackloweCollection achieves a total of $922.2 million, becoming the most valuable collection ever sold at auction. Learn more:

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 17, 2022


Of the 65 art pieces, here are some of the most popular ones the bidders fought hard to get hold of. 

At @Sothebys for the second half of the Macklowe sale! The first auction in November brought in $676 million. Tonight’s sum estimated to be ~$200 million, which would make the Macklowe hoard the most expensive art collection ever sold at auction.

— Carlie Porterfield (@reporterfield) May 16, 2022

MAY 2022 LOT

1. Sigmar Polke's 'Plastic Tubs' sells for Rs 46 crore. Untitled #11 sells for Rs 49 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Sigmar Polke’s ‘Plastic Tubs’ sells for $6 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 16, 2022

2. Untitled #11 sells for Rs 49 crore. 

#AuctionUpdate: Agnes Martin’s sublime ‘Untitled #11’ from 1985 goes for $6.4 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 17, 2022
 3. Willem De Kooning's ‘Untitled XIII’ sells for Rs 69 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: The second work from Willem De Kooning, ‘Untitled XIII’, achieves $9 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 17, 2022

 4. Early Morning Happiness sells for Rs 76 crore.

The night starts strong at @Sothebys as Agnes Martin records a top 3 sale‘Early Morning Happiness’ hammers for $9.86 million, the highest Martin sale since November That November sale, the first Macklowe auction, saw Untitled #44 sell for $17.7 million

— Bradley Calleja (@bradleycalleja) May 16, 2022

5. Willem De Kooning's 'Untitled, 1961' sells for Rs 131 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Willem De Kooning’s ‘Untitled, 1961’ featuring a palette of sundrenched yellows sells for $17.8 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 16, 2022

6. Andy Warhol's ‘Self Portrait’ sells for Rs 144 crore. 

#AuctionUpdate: The highly anticipated Warhol ‘Self Portrait’ achieves $18.7 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 17, 2022

7. Gerhard Richter’s Seascape sells for Rs 232 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Gerhard Richter’s ‘Seascape’ achieves $30 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 16, 2022

8. Mark Rothko’s Untitled sells for Rs 371 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Never before publicly exhibited, Mark Rothko’s ‘Untitled’ sells for $48 million #TheMackloweCollection

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 16, 2022


1. Jeff Koons's sculpture ‘Aqualung’ sold for Rs 116 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Jeff Koons’s sculpture ‘Aqualung’ sells for $15.2M.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

2. Pablo Picasso's figure sold for Rs 201 crore

#AuctionUpdate: Picasso’s sculpture ‘Figure (Projet pour un monument à Guillaume Apollinaire)’ sells for $26.3M.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

3. Andy Warhol's ‘Sixteen Jackies’ sold for Rs 263 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Dating from the height of Andy Warhol’s career, ‘Sixteen Jackies’ from 1964 sells to applause for $33.9M, exceeding its $20M high estimate.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

4. Agnes Martin's ‘Nine Marilyns’ sold for Rs 363 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Featuring one of Andy Warhol’s most important muses, Andy Warhol’s ‘Nine Marilyns’ from 1962 achieves $47M.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

5. Cy Twombly's ‘Untitled’ sold for Rs 456 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: Appearing at auction for the first time, Cy Twombly’s monumental ‘Untitled’ reaches $59M.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

6. Jackson Pollock ‘Black Paintings’ sold for Rs 471 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: An incredible example of Jackson Pollock’s ‘Black Paintings’, ‘Number 17, 1951’ fetches $61M - a new auction record for the artist.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

7. Alberto Giacometti's sculpture sold for Rs 606 crore.

#AuctionUpdate: One of the artist’s most iconic sculptures, Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Le Nez’ brings $78.4M.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

8. Mark Rothko's painting ‘No.7’ sold for Rs 638 crore. 

#AuctionUpdate: Mark Rothko’s 1951 masterpiece ‘No.7’ sells for $82.5M - the second-highest price for a work by the artist.

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 16, 2021

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