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Sotheby’s Moves Hong Kong Art Sales to New York; First-edition Jane Austen Novels Go to Auction

Also, the collection of a former president of the Museum of Modern Art — valued at $450 million — will be sold, and more.

Jane Austen, Emma, first edition, three volumes, London, 1816 (courtesy of Swann Galleries)

The coronavirus outbreak has scrambled this spring’s auction schedule. While Christie’s announced earlier this month that it would push its 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong from March to May, Sotheby’s has now announced that it will be moving its Modern & Contemporary Art Sales in April from Hong Kong to New York. Sotheby’s will also be postponing several Hong Kong sales of art, jewelry, watches, and wine, initially intended for April, to July.

In a twist, the sought-after Donald B. Marron Family Collection will be sold collaboratively by Acquavella Galleries, Gagosian, and Pace Gallery rather than by an auction house. Marron, formerly the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, passed away in December, leaving behind a collection of around 300 modern and contemporary works valued at more than $450 million. The three galleries will hold a joint exhibition of Marron’s collection in New York this May to coincide with TEFAF New York, Frieze New York, and New York Spring Auction Week.

At Swann Galleries in New York, a sale of fine books, manuscripts, and autographs garnered $971,535, exceeding the sale’s high estimate. Rare first editions of Jane Austen’s six major novels, all in period binding, came to the auction block. Editions of Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Sense and Sensibility (1811) led the sale at $100,000 and $81,250, respectively. Other highlights included a first edition of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951); a 1863 document signed by Abraham Lincoln that declared America’s first national draft; and five documents that Philip K. Dick signed to his psychiatrist in 1973, including typed letters, a greeting card, and a “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” dust jacket. “My check for the $100 that I owe you will be delayed a little longer, because emergency surgery on my lower jaw suddenly ate up all we had on hand…” one letter reads. “(No pun intended).”

Louise Nevelson, “Sky Sentinels” (1976), Painted aluminum (courtesy of the Snite Museum of Art)

The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana announced the acquisition of “Sky Sentinels,”, a painted aluminum sculpture made by American sculptor Louise Nevelson in 1976 — the same year that she was selected to be the subject of a sweeping retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The sculpture is a promised gift from art collector and Notre Dame alumnus Charles S. Hayes (’65), donated in memory of Burton and Naomi Kanter.

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