Barney A. Ebsworth passed away in April 2018 and left behind the largest ever American Modernist art collection by a private owner. Last week Christie’s auctioned this massive collection earning an incredible $323,103,500!
Highlights included Edward Hopper’s Chop Suey, 1929. It was purchased for $91,875,000, a record for the artist and the category of American Art. Willem de Kooning’s Woman as Landscape went for $68,937,500, and Jackson Pollock’s Composition with Red Strokes sold for $55,437,500.
In Ebsworth’s autobiography he revealed “My real interest in art didn’t start until 1957. I was not an art connoisseur. I visited [the Louvre] because it was such an integral part of Paris, and what I found there changed me.” He’s also frequently quoted as saying “In real estate, they say three things matter: location, location, location. For me, collecting art was about quality, quality, quality.”
Throughout his art-collecting life, Ebsworth felt it was very important to open his home to many museum groups, academic and art educational programs in order to allow people to see the art and experience it for themselves first-hand. He felt strongly that he was merely a steward for these masterpieces during his lifetime, and that they should be accessible to everyone who was interested in learning from and truly experiencing the art as he did.