The NY Times reports that David Rockefeller is selling a 7-foot Rothko painting that he bought in 1960 for $10,000. Sotheby's will auction "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender)" and has reportedly given him a guarantee of $46 million. The record for a Rothko was a 2005 sale at Christie's, when Homage to Matisse was sold for $22.4 million.
Rothko lovers, if you're wondering why Rockefeller, who has a long history with the Museum of Modern Art, didn't leave it with the MoMA, the Times has the answer:
John Elderfield, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, said Mr. Rockefeller had called him before consigning the painting to Sotheby’s. “He asked me if this was something we had to have,” Mr. Elderfield said. “We don’t need it. We already have five Rothkos from the 1950s.”
Mr. Rockefeller said: “I’ve given the Modern a great many paintings and am giving them more, but the museum already has so many Rothkos. I can use the proceeds for other things.”
The Times' Carol Vogel writes that the painting "is a particularly sensuous example of Rothko’s abstract work during his most important years" and will be "the star of the sale at Sotheby's." We hope that Sotheby's will put the Rothko on display for the public!
Artcyclopedia has a list of where Rothkos can be seen. And the Sun says while the Rothko sale is good news for Sotheby's, their Asian art sale may have "exposed some managerial weaknesses." Related: For some fun about MoMA director Glenn Lowry's compensation, check out this post from CultureGrrl Lee Rosenbaum.