Sale of Edward Albee’s Art Collection Will Benefit His Foundation
Edward Albee is, of course, best known for his plays (the most famous: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”). But he was also a collector, and visitors to his TriBeCa loft were often struck by the museumlike array of tribal sculptures and contemporary paintings.
Now his estate is planning to sell his art collection to raise money for his foundation, which maintains a residence for artists in Montauk, N.Y. In late September, Sotheby’s is planning to auction over 100 works from Albee’s collection, which the company expects to sell for more than $9 million.
The work is mostly 20th century fine art — Jean Arp, Milton Avery, Wassily Kandinsky and Lee Krasner are among the artists represented in the collection — but also includes some African and pre-Columbian pieces.
“He really loved objects, and he really loved painting,” said Amy Cappellazzo, the chairman of Sotheby’s fine arts division. “Edward lived with the collection in a very special way. He lived with it deeply. Everything was placed in an open loft environment, and how they were hung was interesting and specific to him, so we’re going to try to do justice to those ideas.”
Ms. Cappellazzo said Albee, who died last September at 88, amassed the collection over many years and across many genres. She said some works were acquired based on relationships he had with the artists, some because they were connected to devotional practices that interested him, and some simply because they caught his eye.
“That eclectic taste is a mark of his curiosity,” she said. “He had tremendous reverence for the process of artmaking of all kinds, and the collection is definitely that of a collector who was interested in the minds of artists.”
Ms. Cappellazzo said Albee’s renown would likely enhance sales.
“A collection that belongs to someone who is well-known takes on a different life,” she said. “Whenever you’re involved with a collection of someone who him or herself was also of artistic greatness, you look at the collection differently.”