In a series of upcoming auctions spanning from November this year into the next, Sotheby’s New York is preparing to showcase and auction off a remarkable collection of contemporary artworks once owned by the late California art aficionado, Chara Schreyer, who was also a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMoMA). Experts predict that this collection, brimming with artistic treasures, is estimated to fetch an impressive sum of over $70 million.
One of the stars of this extraordinary collection is Frank Stella’s “Honduras Lottery Co.” (1962), an iconic piece among the earliest examples of Stella’s Concentric Square paintings. Sotheby’s estimates its value to range from $10 million to $15 million. Remarkably, this artwork is one of only six editions created by Stella in the 1960s, and half of them are already housed in museum collections.
Chara Schreyer’s collection also boasts a significant platform sculpture by Donald Judd, anticipated to command a price between $7 million and $10 million. Interestingly, this particular sculpture inspired Schreyer to acquire a Los Angeles residence specifically designed to accommodate the artwork. She even enlisted the same craftsman who crafted the piece for Judd to oversee its installation in her home and meticulously polish it.
A rare gem in Schreyer’s collection is a 1942 example of Marcel Duchamp’s “La Boîte-en-Valise,” commonly known as a box in a suitcase. Containing 69 miniature reproductions of Duchamp’s work, this assemblage is often referred to as “his portable museum.” Notably, this edition was once owned by the legendary artist Andy Warhol and is estimated to be worth between $1.8 million and $2.5 million.
Chara Schreyer’s remarkable journey in the art world began in the 1970s when she started assembling a collection that primarily featured works by artists associated with the American Modernism movement, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Stella, and Stuart Davis. By the 1990s, her focus shifted towards collecting works by artists who challenged conventional perceptions and, in her words, “made the familiar strange and the strange familiar,” a concept borrowed from Russian literary critic Viktor Shklovsky. Her extensive collection soon encompassed artists like Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Joseph Beuys, and Louise Bourgeois.
Schreyer’s passion for art was so profound that she reimagined and expanded her five California residences into gallery-like spaces. These unique spaces were meticulously designed to house and exhibit art forms that are seldom seen in private homes, including video art, large sculptures, and neon art. In June, one of her San Francisco properties was listed for sale at $4.9 million. Notably, Chara Schreyer generously offered countless tours of her homes to university students, cultural associations, and museum boards, leaving a lasting impact on those who experienced her collections.
In addition to her role at SFMoMA, Chara Schreyer was a dedicated patron and trustee of several prominent art institutions in California, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Hammer Museum, both located in Los Angeles. Her passing in February marked the end of an era in the California art scene, but her legacy lives on through her exceptional collection.
The artworks from Chara Schreyer’s collection will be presented in Sotheby’s day and evening contemporary sales starting in November, with additional auctions scheduled throughout 2024. Highlights from this remarkable collection will be showcased at Sotheby’s showrooms in Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles before returning to New York for an exhibition opening on November 1, just ahead of the autumn auctions.
Read more about art: Picasso’s Iconic Portrait of Lover Expected to Fetch Over $120 Million at Auction