Taubman art collection to go under auctioneer's gavel beginning this week

Nov 1, 2015

Beginning this week, the massive art collection of billionaire Michigan businessman Alfred Taubman goes up for auction.

"Paulette Jourdain" Amedeo Modigliani
Credit Sothebys

Alfred Taubman died in April. He was 91.

Taubman’s art collection, which spans centuries and styles, reflects the man who collected it over many decades.

“He was a renaissance man,” says Alexander Rotter, the head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. “And he just collected what he thought was great … what he liked.”

The size of the collection is forcing Sotheby’s to spread the auction over the next several months.  

Observers predict the Taubman collection will garner a half-billion dollars at auction, breaking the all-time record for the auction of art from a single collector. The 2009 auction of Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s art collection generated $477 million.

Proceeds from the Taubman auction will be used to pay off estate tax obligations, and fund the Taubman foundation.   

Taubman collected many of the art works during the nearly two decades he owned Sotheby’s.   

He sold his interest in the auction house after he served prison time in an art price fixing scandal. Taubman maintained he was innocent of the charges.