After just the first night of a scheduled three evenings of auctions at the plaza of David Rockefeller, a record-breaking $646 million worth of 19th and 20th century art was sold at Christie’s night. This breaks the previous record held by Yves Saint Laurent which grossed $484 million in 2009.

Amongst the most valuable art works, Picasso’s “Fillette à la corbeille fleurie” was sold for $115 million to an anonymous phone bidder. Monet’s “Nymphéas en fleur” sold for $84.7 million and Matisse’s “Odalisque couchée aux magnolias” sold for $80.75 million.

Picasso’s “Fillette à la corbeille fleurie” was the highest grossing sale of the night. It sold for $115 million. Christies Ltd.
Claude Monet’s ‘Nympheas en fleur’ (Water Lilies), which sold for $84.7 million. Christies Ltd.

The David and Peggy Rockefeller sale consists of 1,500 lots and includes everything from a Rockefeller Centre money clip to a George III Silver Teapot to Georgia O’Keeffe paintings. After his death in 2017, aged 101, David Rockerfeller’s will outlined his wishes to put his collection up for auction, requesting the proceeds to be donated to select not-for-profit organisations including Rockefeller University, the Museum of Modern Art and the Council on Foreign Relations. Also outlined in the will was that each child was able to select up to $1 million of goods as a gift before they had to pay fair market value for anything above that amount.

Despite acquiring such a large collection, many of the items held personal value to the man. Before his death Rockefeller noted, “Mother acquired most of this group of Greek vases at sale in New York during the early 1920s. It is my recollection that a few of them had belonged to my grandfather, Senator Nelson Aldrich, who gave them to my mother. In the mid-1920s, in an effort to encourage habits of orderliness in her sons, Mother offered these vases as a prize to the one who was able to keep his room neatest over of my brothers, and have enjoyed owning them ever since. During my last 20 years at Chase, they were displayed in my office at the bank.”

Rockefeller’s attic black-figured amphora. Christies Ltd