| Sufiyeh Hadian

Inside David Bowie’s Private Collection

The performer, the collector, the icon that is the late David Bowie is commemorated through his vast and highly personal art collection at Sotheby’s this week, before going to auction in a three-part series.

Beautiful, hallo, space-boy painting (1995), by Damien Hirst with David Bowie
Beautiful, hallo, space-boy painting (1995), by Damien Hirst with David Bowie

Bowie’s maverick ways of re-invention and curiosity are mirrored through his weird and wonderful art collection, which has been kept private up until now. Over 400 pieces including Harold Gilman, Frank Auerbach, Damien Hirst and painter Peter Lanyon in particular depth are on display, however, his collection is by no means limited to British art alone and also encompasses Contemporary African art, self-taught artists from Vienna’s Gugging institution, as well as designs by Ettore Sottsass and the revolutionary Memphis group. Encompassing some 400 objects from the personal holdings of a man who approached collecting with the same inspired sense of individualism that defined his own fiercely original art.

“Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different way, depending on what I’m going through.”
– David Bowie

Untitled (1984), by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Untitled (1984), by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Among the more unconventional works is a piece by Duchamp – ‘A Bruit Secret’ – in which a ball of string is placed between two brass plates, with an unknown object hidden in the middle, is expected to fetch up to £250,000, while Jean-Michel Basquiat’s graffiti-style painting ‘Air Power’ is said to be the most valuable lot in the auction, with an estimated value of between £2.5m – £3.5m.

“David was very serious about art, and especially Modern British Art,” Bowie’s friend and art dealer, Bernard Jacobson says, “We would talk for hours and debate what it all meant. He was full of ideas and questions. But he was also compulsive about collecting. He just couldn’t get enough of it, which was amazing. This was the David Bowie.”

This exhibition is available to view to the public before 12 noon tomorrow, before commencing in a three-part sale:

Part I: Modern & Contemporary Art, Evening Auction, 10 November
Part II: Modern & Contemporary Art, Day Auction, 11 November
Part III: Design: Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group, 11 November

All Auctions will be ticketed. To register your interest please email Bowie@sothebys.com.

By Sufiyeh Hadian

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