Unless you’re very lucky you wouldn’t have seen it before. And you’ll certainly never see it like this again. David Bowie’s unique art collection went on display at Sotheby’s. Over 350 pieces from his private collection went under the hammer in November in three different rounds. The sale exceeded all expectations and fetched a massive £33 million at auction.
Peering into the psyche of the iconic and hugely influential musician through his passion for art was an opportunity Mr S and I were not going to miss. So on a cold November Sunday afternoon straight after swimming lessons, we bundled the girls into their winter clobber and zipped over to Mayfair. Entering a very busy Sotheby’s my little Heroes were surprised at the number of people ogling the exhibits.
Wandering around the different rooms, we began to play the game – ‘place your millions’. Here’s a peek at what we would have spent our fake millions on.
One of the stand out pieces for the girls was Norman Catherine’s – Fanagalo Store. Wooden characters, oil painted in vibrant colours, some quite macabre in nature. What’s not to like for little folk, apart from the £1,000 – £15,000 auction price tag? Talk about a real test of control not to grab one and start playing.
Bowie’s modernist furniture collection really caught my eye. I’ve always thought if I had never entered the telly game I would have become an interior designer.
This Ettore Sottsass ‘Carlton’ room divider would look great in my home, if only it would fit! Mr S was definitely not convinced, especially at the £6,000 – £8,000 mark.
Radha started planning on how cool the Peter Shire ‘Bel Air’ armchair and Nathalie du Pastier ‘Rivera’ carpet would look in her bedroom. Or more like pondering if anyone would notice if she parked her backside down.
Mr S was taken by the eerie image of Irish writer James Joyce author who wrote the classic ‘Ulysses’. A book he’s been telling me to read since we found Modern Love, but I’ve still not got round to it!
Asha meanwhile merged with the art with her beady eyes and matching top. Anything sweetie orientated will have her first in the queue. Aptly titled ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ by Patrick Hughes.
The spin painting created by Damien Hurst and David Bowie, called ‘Beautiful hallo, space boy painting’ took over an entire wall. In 1995 Hurst told Bowie to come to his studio in old clothes. Instead he turned up in his expensive suit and said “he didn’t have any old clothes but didn’t mind getting paint on the new shit he was wearing”. Apparently he chucked in his watch too to aid the creation. Rock ‘n’ Roll indeed. Valued at the sale at £250,000 – £350,000.
In the midst of playing ‘place your millions’ my Absolute Beginners decided to create some of their own still life – I love it. It’s a framer.
Now I have a thing about bronze sculptures. I’m yet to own a decent one. Still saving my pennies. These Frederick Edward McWillam pieces, ‘Kneeling Girl’ and ‘Girl on Edge of Bed’ with their strong angular poses were beautiful. I did mention to Mr S my birthday would be just Hunky Dory should one of these appear in my living room, which totally fell on deaf ears. Auction price being £6,000 – £8,000.
It was certainly an interesting and very different kind of trip with the girls. Explaining the genius of the man these objects once belonged to, onto why he was no longer with us, to pretending to spend our fake millions. It was a wonderful hour meandering around the exhibition. And a fantastic opportunity for Bowie fans to be able to see it as a collective before the pieces find new homes and stories.
“Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through” – David Bowie 1998
Sotheby’s | 34-35 New Bond Street | London | W1A 2AA
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