The Collection of a Much-Married Computer Whiz Comes to Christie's
Source:Artinfo.com Date: 2010-09-11 Size:
The 250-piece art collection of the eccentric computer technology innovator Max Palevsky, whose buying habits were influenced by his love of mathematics and women, is set to hit the block at Christie's in October. Specialists at the house say that it could fetch as much as $78 million.

  

NEW YORK— The 250-piece art collection of the eccentric computer technology innovator Max Palevsky, whose buying habits were influenced by his love of mathematics and women, is set to hit the block at Christie's in October. Specialists at the house say that it could fetch as much as $78 million.

The formidable trove consists of items ranging from antiquities (including a marble bust of Aphrodite circa 2nd century Rome) to abstract works by Frank Stella and Alexander Calder. He "didn’t just go for trophy art," Aaron Betsky, author of "Three California Houses: The Homes of Max Palevsky," told Bloomberg's Lindsay Pollock.

Born in Chicago in 1924, Palevsky’s was a forerunner in systems technology, and his innovations continue to impact current technology. In the early 1960s, he co-founded Scientific Data Systems, which was eventually bought out by Xerox for over $1 billion.

Palevsky’s passion for mathematics and technology seems to have heavily informed his collecting choices and is visible throughout pieces he owned, from Richard Lindner’s robot-inspired women to the carefully calculated balance that defines Calder mobiles.

While the collection might attest to its curator's mathematical smarts, it reveals, too, Palevsky’s infatuation with a rather wide variety of females. Having married and divorced five different women, it is perhaps no surprise that Palevsky gravitated toward such works as Fernand Léger’s 1921 "La Tasse de Thé," which depicts a buxom nude sipping tea, and is expected to go for $12 million. He also owned the 1964 Roy Lichtenstein painting "Girl in Mirror," whose reflection of a vain and chipper blonde is currently set at $4 million.

Female fascinations aside, the auction will also include a 1970 mobile by Alexander Calder, "Tableau Noire" — which had graced the poolside at Palevsky’s Palm Springs party pad for years — as well as several Auguste Rodin bronzes, including "Balzac Etude Finale," which was produced as part of a commission to honor the French author. Expected price points are $3.5 million and $600,000 respectively.

Additional pieces in the decorative arts category (including an ornate silver vase designed for Liberty & Co. by Archibald Knox, estimated at $90,000) will be sold at a later date in December.

Laura Paulson, international director of Christie’s post-war and contemporary department, admitted to the New York Times that the estimates tagged to the work were conservative. "We aren’t in a moment where we can get away with anything just a little higher than where it should be," she said.

Furthermore, selected highlights from Palevsky’s collection will be touring across the globe, starting with Christie’s Paris (September 14-21), followed by Christie's Hong Kong (October 2-6), Christie’s London (October 9-14), and finally ending, on October 21 in New York City.

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern