March 12, 2012 3:00 pm

Sotheby’s to sell Sachs’ pop art collection

The sizeable art collection of the late Gunter Sachs, the German playboy and wealthy heir to two industrial fortunes, is to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in May and is expected to fetch more than £20m.

Sachs had a large collection of modern art, particularly of female nudes. The two-day London sale will see the auction of 300 artworks and objects spanning surrealism, nouveau realism, pop art, art deco and graffiti. The lots range in estimates from £50 to £3m.

At the heart of the Sachs collection is a series of pop art works by Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann and Roy Lichtenstein that he acquired in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Many of the paintings were purchased directly from the artists or commissioned by Sachs for his St Moritz apartment that he designed as a pop art interior.

Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of contemporary art at Sotheby’s Europe, described the sale as one of the most desirable owner collections to come to market due to the confluence of “zeitgeist, exceptional provenance and arresting images” of Sachs and his wife – Brigitte Bardot – “by the most accomplished artists of the time”.

Sachs met Warhol in St Tropez in the early 60s and the two men became lifelong friends. In 1971 he opened art galleries in Hamburg and Munich, and was the first to bring Warhol to Germany for an exhibition.

He liked to tell the story of how, at the end of the Warhol private view in Hamburg, “120 bottles of champagne were empty, but not a single picture had been sold, because the Hamburg moneybags didn’t know where to begin”. The exhibition was a great success, but he ended up owning more than he intended.

Estimated to sell for £3m-£4m is a 1974 portrait by Warhol of Ms Bardot. Sachs famously courted her by hovering in a helicopter over her villa on the French riviera and dropping hundreds of red roses into her garden.

Also included in the sale is “Pink Fright Wig”, one of Warhol’s last self-portraits. Richard Avedon’s 1959 photograph of Ms Bardot is estimated to go on sale for £40,000-£60,000.

The surrealist section in the auction features work by Max Ernst, René Magritte, Victor Brauner, Salvador Dalí and Yves Tanguy.

Furniture by Diego Giacometti is also up for sale and includes a sculptural armchair entitled “Fauteuil à Tête de Lionnes”. The work is estimated to go for between £30,000 and £50,000.

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