from The Daily Beast

Billionaire Art Collectors Circle as Megabucks Masterpieces Head for Auction

TROPHY HUNTING – The mega-auction season begins with an expected big-money bloodbath at the sale of Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s collection. Who will buy what remains an intriguing mystery.

by Helen Holmes

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Christie’s

It’s said that the pillars of the art market come down to the three Ds: death, divorce, or debt. It’s in these dramatic instances of transition, financial peril or both that longtime collectors are most motivated to unload their goods, and when they do, the results can be spectacular.

In May, Sotheby’s scored a huge win with the Macklowe collection auction, a sale made possible by real estate developer Harry Macklowe’s splashy split from his wife, Linda. The Macklowes, who had no pre-nuptial agreement, had been married for nearly 60 years and their divorce was bitter: Linda’s legal team claimed her ex, who’d also been shelling out for his French mistress’s Park Avenue apartment, hadn’t paid taxes since the ’80s.

On the strength of the sale of only 65 lots, including a $61 million Pollock and $48 million Rothko, the Macklowe collection became the most expensive ever to sell at auction: altogether, Sotheby’s did $922.2 million in sales. “This sale will… make history as one of the defining moments in the art market,” Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart said at the time.

The Macklowe divorce also produced some hilariously messy rich person behavior. Years prior to the sale, Harry Macklowe paid for 42-foot-high Times Square billboards of his and mistress-turned-wife Patricia Landeau’s faces. If that doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.

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