Art that once belonged to the late Bostonian collector Gerald Fineberg is expected to fetch more than $270m at Christie’s New York, with a two-part standalone auction scheduled for May touting works by artists from Man Ray to Christopher Wool.
Fineberg, who went by Jerry, was a Boston real estate mogul and hotelier who died last December after amassing a wide-ranging collection of 20th-century art. “Jerry was a collector who thought like a curator,” Sara Friedlander, Christie’s deputy chairman of post-war and contemporary art, said in a statement. “When he got into a new movement or artist, he really went deep. That’s what makes this collection so unique and special.”
In May, about 220 works from Fineberg’s collection will be sold across an evening sale and day sale, according to Christie’s. Additional works from his collection will be part of subsequent sales, Christie’s said. In all, his collection is expected to bring around $270m.
Fineberg's collection spans a century of art, starting with a Man Ray painting of Kiki de Montparnasse, who also served as the subject for the artist’s famous photograph Le Violon d'Ingres (1924). The painting, Portrait de Kiki (1923), is expected to fetch as much as $1.5m.
Leading works from the May sale include Gerhard Richter’s Badende (1967) and an untitled 1993 text painting by Christopher Wool that reads “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke”, which are both estimated to sell for between $15m and $20m. Pablo Picasso’s Buste d’homme lauré (1969) could fetch as much as $12m. The sale also features works by Joan Mitchell, Alex Katz, Alice Neel and Willem de Kooning.
Fineberg’s collection was diverse and featured work by a number of female artists and painters of colour, Christie’s noted. Barkley Hendricks’s Stanley (1971), a life-sized portrait of fellow artist Stanley Whitney, was painted while Hendricks was still a student at Yale University, where the two men met and became friends. The painting is estimated to fetch as much as $7m.
Before his death, Fineberg served on the boards of Massachusetts art institutions including the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston, where works by contemporary artists are installed on the Gerald and Sandra Fineberg Art Wall.
In 2021, a union made up of tenants of properties owned and managed by Fineberg’s firm held a rally and pop-up exhibition outside the ICA to protest evictions and what they described as squalid living conditions.