Two American Impressionist Paintings Sold from the Clark Estate
Two American Impressionist paintings from the estate of Huguette Clark, which have not been on the market for at least 85 years, were sold today at Christie’s in New York as part of the auction An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures. They are among some $300 million worth furniture, silver, a Stradivari violin known as “The Kreutzer” (estimate: $7.5-10 million) and other artifacts once owned by an heiress the Washington Post called “pathologically private.” She died in 2011 at the age of 104 and her estate was settled last year – the 357-lot auction is expected to last all day.
According to the Post:
[Her] billionaire father — the copper magnate and Montana Sen. William A. Clark — founded Las Vegas, built his family a 121-room mansion on [New York’s] Fifth Avenue and was believed to be the second-richest man in the country in 1907, behind only John D. Rockefeller, the year after Huguette was born.
Her story is a sort of forensic examination of what one woman who could have done anything at all did do. She lived increasingly carefully. Although physically healthy, she spent the last 20 years of her highly circumscribed life in a New York hospital room in which she constructed even smaller worlds, designing and commissioning miniature Japanese castles. And where, in all that time, she was never given a psychiatric evaluation.
Meryl Gordon’s new biography of the recluse, “The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark,” describes in detail how her lifelong fear of being taken advantage of by her relatives freed her to be taken advantage of by various caretakers, including at least two of her doctors at Beth Israel.
A John Singer Sargent Girl Fishing, (above) a late work among his Italian paintings and last on the market in 1929, sold for a hammer price of $3.7 million ($4,309,000 with the buyer’s premium).
The following lot, a vignette in Prospect Park, the masterwork of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Calvert Vaux, sold for a hammer price of $380,000 ($461,000 with the buyer’s premium), well below its $500,000 low estimate. It depicts a scene near a water feature (seen below from a different angle) and is believed to have been a gift from the artist.