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David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the Art

The legend's collection goes up for grabs at Sotheby’s London.

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He was a man of many personas, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke. But one of David Bowie's lesser-known identities was that of art aficionado. He served on the editorial board of Modern Painters magazine, where he conducted interviews with artists like Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin, and wrote essays on Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst. He produced art books through his small publishing house, 21. He was also a voracious collector, and the more than 400 works, comprising both fine art and design pieces, that the late singer acquired over three decades will be on view at Sotheby's in London from November 1 to 10. Then all of "Bowie/Collector" will go on the block in a two-day, three-part sale. The art includes pieces by Hirst, Basquiat, Henry Moore, and Marcel Duchamp. The furniture, mostly Italian postmodern—is by Ettore Sottsass, the Memphis Group, and brothers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni, who crafted lot 446: Bowie’s record player, a 1965 Brionvega RR 126 Radiophonograph. 34-35 New Bond St.; sothebys.com.

Bidding on Bowie

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984
“His work relates to rock in ways that very few visual artists get near,” Bowie wrote of Basquiat. Estimate: $3 million—$4 million

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Glacier (Bone), 1950
One of Bowie’s favorite St. Ives School painters. Est.: $65,000–$105,000

Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965
“My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks,” Bowie said of this painting. Est.: $400,000–$650,000
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