Part of an art collection assembled by an esteemed Chicago couple is expected to draw millions of dollars in sales tonight and tomorrow during a Christie’s auction in New York.
The vast collection of Edwin A. and Lindy (Betty) Bergman, assembled over a 60-year period, includes major works by Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso and Wayne Thiebaud. The collection also features some of the most famous works created by American artist Joseph Cornell.
Fourteen lots from the Bergman collection are to be auctioned tonight, Christie’s officials said, and are together expected to raise $ 30 to $ 40 million. The pieces include Calder’s “Poisson volant (Flying Fish)” sculpture from 1957, which is estimated to sell for between $ 9 million and $ 12 million.
Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar, titled “Tête de femme à deux profils,” will also be auctioned, and is estimated to sell for $ 4 million to $ 6 million.
Another 49 lots from the collection are to be auctioned Wednesday morning, said Sara Friedlander, a sales head for the auction house.
“Edwin and Lindy Bergman were hallmarks of the Chicago art scene, a vibrant segment of the American creative landscape that continues to climb in critical and art historical importance,” the auction house said, adding that the couple “played a major role in the continuing reputation of Chicago as one of the world’s most important destinations for great art.”
Christie’s, in promotional material, calls it “one of the most outstanding private collections to come to auction in recent history.”
Betty Bergman, a University of Chicago graduate, died in January in her Hyde Park home at the age of 96. Edwin Bergman worked for more than 40 years for Lansing-based U.S. Reduction Co., eventually as president and chairman. He resigned in 1981 to become chairman of the University of Chicago’s board of trustees. He died in 1986.
The couple began collecting in the 1950s, after they took an art class at the U of C, then began visiting galleries and studying artwork. They grew especially attached to surrealist art.
Although they had given paintings to museums around the country, the couple donated the lion’s share of their collection to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, including works by Rene Magritte, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.