Basquiat’s untitled mixed-media work, owned by Dennis Hopper. (Christie’s / October 24, 2010)

This year, Los Angeles has lost three of its leading art collectors, as actor Dennis Hopper, gallery director Robert Shapazian and computer pioneer Max Palevsky all died within two months of each other. Now, the city is poised to lose the bulk of their collections as well, as Christie’s is selling some 350 artworks from their estates starting this week.

Expected to bring close to $100 million, these artworks are sure to be dispersed to buyers across the country and beyond. Some of the most prized pieces, slated for Christie’s big contemporary sale Nov. 10, include a 1987 Basquiat painting owned by Hopper, which the auction house estimated will sell for $5 million to $7 million; Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 “Girl in Mirror” from Palevsky, estimated at $3 million to $4 million; and Andy Warhol’s 1962 “Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato)” from Shapazian, estimated at $6 million to $8 million.

In the trade, these kinds of historically important works are called museum pieces. But they have not been bequeathed to Los Angeles museums, which depend heavily on such gifts for their growth.


Jori Finkel
Los Angeles Times