Christie’s auction house in New York on Tuesday night was filled with intense and competitive bidding, which set fifteen records for American Painters. The auction brought in more than $317,801,250. All artwork sold came from the private collection of Barney Ebsworth, former travel company executive and art collector.
Edward Hopper’s iconic ‘Chop Suey’ set a new auction record for the category of American Art, which sold for an astonishing $91,875,000. Experts believe this piece, an oil on canvas painted in 1929, was inspired byChinese restaurants that Hopper visited, both in New York and on his travels. NBC News reports it was considered to be the greatest Hopper in private hands.
Another record was set at Christie’s Tuesday evening when a Willem de Kooning work, his tour de force, “Woman as Landscape,” sold for $68,937,500. Other artists who also set records include Alexander Calder, for his standing sculpture woodwork, “Hen,” which sold for $8,412,500, Arshile Gorky, Francis Criss, Joseph Stella and George Tooker, for his “A Game of Chess,” which sold for $432,000. All of the evening’s purchases came from anonymous buyers.
Marc Porter, Christie’s chairman, said Tuesday’s auction was special for its irony. Ebsworth started collecting American paintings because he was told European paintings were too expensive. Now, his collection is one of the top five collections ever sold at an auction.
“There has been a groundswell of interest in American Modernism. One of the most interesting of this collection is that it explored all elements of American painting and sculpture in the 20th century from magic realism to abstract expressionism and beyond,” Porter said.
Eric Widing, deputy chairman of Christie’s, knew Ebsworth for decades. “He was passionate about art, he was a student, he knew artists in depth. He bought low at times and he also bought high at times and sold high as we saw tonight,” Widing said.
A statement from the Ebsworth family read: “We are delighted with the results tonight at Christie’s which paid tribute to my father’s eye and focused on quality. The works that gave him so much pleasure will now do the same for their new owners.”