In October 2022, nearly 1,500 works from the eminent Ann and Gordon Getty collection will be offered at Christie’s New York.
Spanning four days, a series of 10 featured sales – such as artwork, jewelry, handbags and furniture – will be held. Collectively, these sales are estimated at US$180 million. Proceeds from this sale will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, committed to supporting arts and science organizations.
The family oil business once dominated the American economy, propelling father and son among the wealthiest men in the United States. The J. Paul Getty Museum and image supply company, Getty Images, were also founded by the family.
Formerly housed in their San Francisco mansion, the Ann and Gordon Getty collection will be auctioned in October 2022
The collection includes a wide range of artworks, such as classical oil paintings, Chinese porcelain and European furniture.
So where does this family’s wealth come from?
The Getty family’s ancestry can be traced back to Scottish-Irish roots, when they moved from England to the United States. By the turn of the 20th century, the family was running an oil empire, catapulting Getty’s name to the highest rung of society.
He founded Getty Oil in the 1940s. Fluent in Arabic, Getty expanded the business into the Middle East. At its peak, it controlled over 200 companies – with industries including oil, aircraft manufacturing, finance and hospitality.
In the late 1950s, Forbes named Jean Paul the richest living American. Then, in 1966, Guinness World Records named him the world’s richest private citizen. When he died in the 1970s, his net worth was estimated at over US$6 billion.
John Paul Getty
J. Paul Getty in 1964, in the Great Hall at Sutton Place, England
Getty’s oil empire once dominated the United States
Alongside his many businesses, Jean Paul was also an avid art collector in the late 1930s. Inspired by the owner of his New York apartment, a relative of Winston Churchill, he is interested in the collection of 18th century French paintings and furniture.
Since then, Jean Paul has expanded his collection into a wide range of art. According to his 1965 autobiography, The joys of collecting, he is passionate about works such as Greco-Roman antiquities, Renaissance art painting and 16th century Persian carpets. His art collection of over 600 pieces was housed between his eponymous museum and his Tudor mansion in Surrey, England, known as Sutton Place, where he lived his days.
After his death, these works were transferred to the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Villa in Los Angeles.
Located in Los Angeles, the Getty Museum is housed on two campuses – Getty Center and Getty Villa
Built in a classic architectural style, Getty Villa has now become a tourist spot for taking photos
Gordon is an award-winning classical music composer
In 1983, Forbes magazine listed Jean Paul’s fourth son, Gordon Getty, as the richest person in America with a net worth of around US$2 billion.
After his father’s death, Gordon took over the reins of the family oil business. But he eventually sold Getty Oil to Texaco in 1986 – three years after he was crowned America’s richest man. He then became a composer of classical music and aspired to become an opera singer. Winner of the prestigious European Culture Prize in 2019, Gordon has created many vocal works such as Joan and the bells and plump jack. They have appeared in prestigious venues around the world, such as Carnegie Hall, New York; Royal Festival Hall, London; and Brahms Saal, Vienna.
Ann and Gordon Getty
Ann at her San Francisco mansion in 1977
His wife, Ann, was a devoted benefactor of artistic and scientific causes. She has served on the boards and served as a patron of prominent American cultural institutions – such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2020, she died of a heart attack at the age of 79.
Together, the couple owned an extensive collection, which is reflected in this series of auctions – such as classical oil paintings, impressionist and modern art, 18th century Chinese porcelain, as well as furniture British and European.
If sold entirely, the Getty’s Collection will be one of the most valuable philanthropic auctions in the United States. In 2018, the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection became the most expensive charity auction in history. In the end, it brought in $832 million at Christie’s New York.
Here are some of the highlights of the sales:
Giovanni Antonio Canaletto | Venice, entrance to the Grand Canal looking east with Santa Maria della Salute on the right; Oil on canvas
Estimate: $6,000,000 – $10,000,000
Henry Matisse | Bouquet, Chinese vase; Oil on canvas
Created in 1901
Estimate: 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 USD
Claude Monet | Lavacourt, winter; Oil on canvas
Created in 1879
50.6 x 66cm
Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,500,000
Bernardo Belletto | The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Rialto Bridge from the south; Oil on canvas
60.7 x 91.5cm
Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,500,000
John Boldini | Ballerine Spagnole al Moulin Rouge (Spanish dancer at the Moulin Rouge), Oil on canvas
Created in 1905
125.1 × 101.9cm
Estimate: $1,500,000 – $2,000,000
Jacques-Emile Blanche | Vaslav Nijinsky in Siamese Dance, Oil on canvas
Created around 1911
Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000
Chinese Stupa Famille Rose
Six-character seal mark and Jiaqing period (1796-1820)
Estimate: 200,000 to 300,000 USD
Pair of George II stools in gilt ebony
Created around 1740
Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000
Auction house: Christie’s New York
Sale: The Ann and Gordon Getty Collection
Dates: October 10 – 25, 2022
Direct sales: 4
Online sales: 6