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David and Peggy Rockefeller, in 1973. Photo: Arthur Lavine/Rockefeller Estate

Rockefeller Estate Auctions Art Collection to Benefit Charities

Christie’s auction house in New York announced today that the Rockefeller estate will sell more than 2,000 works from Peggy and David Rockefeller’s collection in order to benefit a dozen charities as well as New York’s Museum of Modern Art. With an estimated worth of $700 million, the works could set the record for the most valuable collection ever sold at auction.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Christie’s to create a significant fundraising opportunity for the philanthropies that are so important to the Rockefeller family,” David Rockefeller, Jr. said. “We are proud to fulfill my father’s wish to share with the world the art and objects that he and my mother collected over a lifetime together, and use them as means to continue the long legacy of Rockefeller family philanthropy first established by John D. Rockefeller.”

The collection includes Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and modern works of art, American paintings, English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, and American decorative arts and furniture. Select highlights from the collection will tour Asia, Europe, and the United States before the sales, which will take place in 2018.

Marc Porter, chairman of the auction house, told the New York Times that the auction might be “the largest sale ever for charity.” He added, that many of the works have never been seen before in public. Among the organizations that will receive proceeds from the sale are Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Stone Barns Restoration Corporation.

David Rockefeller, who died in March at one-hundred and one years old, is remembered as one of the United States’s most deeply engaged and influential civic leaders. In the 1950s and 1960s, he spearheaded the rebuilding and revitalization of Wall Street and later founded the Partnership for New York City to foster cooperation between the private sector and government. He also led Chase Manhattan Bank for more than a decade, successfully expanding the bank’s international operations to more than one hundred countries. 

As a philanthropist, David Rockefeller provided visionary leadership and financial support to various organizations, serving as chairman for many years of Rockefeller University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He was the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the industrialist who consolidated the American petroleum industry and founded the Standard Oil Company in the nineteenth century.

Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, who passed in 1996, was a conservationist, a board member of the American Farmland Trust in Washington, and a founder of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in Topsham, Maine. She and David married in 1940.

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