Rockefeller Collection to Benefit Charities

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Upcoming Auction of David Rockefeller Collection

Rockefeller collection Eider Drake

David Rockefeller was an avid art collector. He and his wife Peggy amassed works from some of the greatest painters of all time. The collection is anticipated to raise more than $500 million (USD) when it goes to auction at Christie’s this spring. Rockefeller always wanted his collection to benefit the charities he believed in. Several, including MoMA will receive proceeds from the auction.

‘Deep down, David was a pure, unbridled collector, and his love of folk art epitomises how grounded he was’ ~ John Hays, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s

In addition to paintings by Monet, Matisse, Picasso and so many others, there are sculptural pieces in the collection as well.

unicorn chest Rockefeller collection

A wide range of folk art in the collection includes a famous unicorn chest pictured above. There is a group of duck decoys, and numerous pieces of porcelain.

According to Christie’s the most popular duck decoys for collectors are those that actually were created as actual decoys, not merely decorations designed to resemble them. The decoy pictured above was most likely from Maine and is estimated it will bring between $100,000-$150,000 at the up-coming auction. It has a number 6 painted on the bottom. That number indicates where the hunter would have placed the decoy.

By the 18th century, hunters were sculpting elaborate wooden birds in bold colours, which would fill their cotton bags as they set out across the wetlands. But with the 1918 passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which banned the hunting of more than 800 migratory species, the use of duck decoys came to a near-instant halt.

Makers began creating ornamental decoys, which, while expertly executed, remain less desirable to collectors. In 2007 Christie’s sold the world’s most expensive duck decoy, modelled on a red-breasted merganser hen, for $856,000.

Other items that might be of interest to those more interested in 3D than 2D works are Meissen porcelain birds circa 1740, modelled by J.J. Kändler.

A special edition of the Christie’s magazine has been published with many more photos and details about the collection for those who might be interested in owning a piece of Rockefellerana.


Eider Drake, probably Maine. 17¾ in long. This work will be offered in The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in Spring 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A Pennsylvania German unicorn-painted poplar chest-over-drawers, Bern township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, circa 1790. 29 in (73.7 cm) high, 52 in (135.6 cm) wide, 23 in (58.4 cm) deep. Estimate: $40,000-80,000. This piece is offered in The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in Spring 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A complete list of the charities who will benefit from the auction can be found here.

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