Donald Marron collection to be sold privately

Donald Marron died in December 2019. Jennifer S. Altman, Bloomberg, via Getty Images

An art collection built by late financier and philanthropist, Donald B. Marron, is to be sold jointly by three New York galleries Gagosian, Pace and Acquavella. The collection was reported to be valued at $450m.  

Marron was chairman of the brokerage firm PaineWebber from 1980-2000 and also served as President of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  

The collection comprises over 300 works, including important works by Pablo Picasso, Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter, and Cy Twombly. In May 2020, the three galleries will organise a joint exhibition, they said in a statement.

The Marron collection, along with the Harry and Linda Macklowe collection was anticipated to bring art sales in the excess of $1bn to market this spring. However, the competition for the 65 works from the Macklowe collection will now likely intensify at auctions this spring.

It is understood that the heads of the three galleries were known to Marron and decided to come together to present a combined sales solution – other than auction – to the family. “I think we’re trying to give some new possibilities for what I think is a natural fit,” Marc Glimcher, President of Pace Gallery told Artnet.

Bill Acquavella said, in a statement: “It was quite clear to me that Don had a special sensitivity for collecting and appreciating fine art. Over the years Don not only became a valued client, but a great friend.”

Pablo Picasso’s Femme au beret et la collerette (Woman with Beret and Collar) (1937)

It is not clear, yet, why exactly the Marron family decided to sell the collection privately. But it will certainly affect the flow of high-value art and analysis of figures in the market. Many say that data from the auction houses are the most trustworthy indications of the market’s health.

Private sales prices can be used as anecdotes, but at this point the only numbers we trust are from the auction houses,” said Christine Bourron, CEO, Pi-eX Ltd.  

Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s had offered guarantees of $300m for the collection, according to the Wall Street Journal. None of them was able to comment at the time of publication.   

The galleries have also refused to disclose the total value the Marron collection might fetch through sales.