Postwar British art

Sale: The Robert Devereux collection of postwar British art

Location: Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7293 5000

Date: Wednesday and Thursday (November 3 and 4). On view Saturday and Sunday (noon-5pm); Monday and Tuesday 9am-4.30pm; Wednesday 9am-1pm. Catalogues on line at

Need to know: Robert Devereux – Sir Richard Branson’s brother-in-law, a one-time partner in the Virgin empire and the current chairman of Frieze – is having a clearout: the multimillionaire collector will next week part with 329 examples of post-war British art in the hope of raising up to £4m to kickstart his African Arts Trust charity that aims to fund studios, materials and travel for budding African painters and sculptors. Devereux, 55, has been buying since he was a teenager and has amassed a vast array of works now difficult to manage. Rather than sell-off what is a significant proportion of his collection piecemeal, he has opted to offer it in this two-day, three-catalogue auction for which Sotheby’s will waive its commission. The house believes it to be the largest number of artworks from a single source ever to have been donated for charity.

Highlights: This sale represents a snapshot of the best of British art from the last six decades. Works include pieces by household names such as Terry Frost, Victor Pasmore, Antony Gormley and Lucian Freud. The most valuable offering is Sean Scully’s “Wall of Light Orange Green” from 2005, tipped to realise £250,000-£350,000, while Patrick Heron’s 1959 abstract “Big Grey – with Disc” is estimated at £120,000-£180,000. Top portraits include Frank Auerbach’s “Head of Paula Eyles” and Leon Kossoff’s “Head of Chaim” that depicts the artist’s brother. Each could realise up to £100,000. All of the above will be included in the ”part one” evening sale on Wednesday, with less-valuable works being offered during two sessions on Thursday. Session one highlights include a Freud portrait of Stephen Spender at £20,000-£30,000 and an £80,000 Heron oil entitled “Cave: September 1956”, but most offerings are below £10,000. The small session three catalogue, meanwhile, comprises 115 lots with prices starting as low as £100.

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