Macklowe art collection brings in $676 million at New York auction

Incredible art collection owned by real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Burg sells for $676million after judge ordered them to sell it off and split the proceeds as part of their bitter divorce

  • The auction at Sotheby’s saw a parade of 35 modern and contemporary works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Koons, Picasso and Giacometti go under the hammer
  • A painting by Rothko, an American expressionist who died in 1970, entitled ‘N ° 7’ was the most expensive item of the evening after it sold for $82.5million
  • The sale was the result of the 2018 divorce of real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda Burg 

The first part of an art collection owned by real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Burg that was put on sale after their bitter divorce has fetched $676million at an auction in New York.

The now separated couple’s incredible treasure trove of high value work was sold off three years after their high profile divorce where they fought over their $2billion wealth after Macklowe left his wife of 58 years for Patricia Landeau, a Frenchwoman 17 years younger than him.

At the time they fought over a multi-million-dollar estate in East Hampton on coveted Georgica Pond, a $52million apartment at the Plaza Hotel, which spans across the entire seventh floor, and a luxury apartment at 432 Park Avenue. 

Their divorce played out publicly and when Macklowe married Landeau, his mistress of two years, in 2019, he erected a 42-foot-tall billboard with portraits of himself and the Frenchwoman on the side of the building at 432 Park Avenue. 

And Burg, honorary administrator of the Met Museum, said the couple’s impressive art collection was worth just $625million in apparent attempt at low-balling key assets she wanted to keep – though the collection is rumored to be value at $1billion. 

But after their highly publicized and stormy separation, a judge ordered the sale of the 65-piece collection after the former couple failed to agree on their value, with the remaining 30 works to be sold later.       

Last night in a record two hours, 35 modern and contemporary works – just half of their collection – by artists such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Picasso and Giacometti sold for $676 million – a record in one night for Sotheby’s in New York.  

A painting by Rothko entitled ‘N ° 7’ was the most expensive item of the evening after it sold for $82.5million.

It was closely followed by a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti entitled ‘Le Nez’ – or ‘The Nose’ – which sold for $78.4million.

Both works were purchased remotely by Asian collectors, Sotheby’s said. 

With the second part of the collection to be sold in spring 2022, the total could surpass the record set by the Rockefeller collection sold in 2018 at Christie’s for $835 million.  


Burg (left in 2014) filed for divorce in 2016, after learning that Harry had been putting his French mistress Patricia (right on their wedding day in 2019), who is in her early 60s, up for at least two years in another property

In 2007, the Macklowes bought the 7th floor of the Plaza Hotel for $52million – making it the most expensive apartment in New York at the time; it was renovated into a 14,000-square-foot condo with its own art gallery, dressing room, maid’s room, library and 54 windows

The couple have enjoyed their Hamptons property (center) on Georgica Pond for nearly 30 years; the East Hampton area also boasts residents such as Steven Spielberg, while Jay-Z and Beyonce bought a home there over the summer

SOLD FOR $82.5MILLION: A 1951 oil painting by Rothko entitled ‘No 7’ was the most expensive item of the evening after it sold for $82.5million

SOLD FOR $47.3MILLION: Andy Warhol’s famous ‘Nine Marylins’ (1962), a series of faces of the movie star Marylin Monroe, in black and white, was sold for $47.3 million

SOLD FOR $78.4MILLION: A bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti entitled ‘Le Nez’ – or ‘The Nose’ – which was created in 1947

Between 200 and 300 people were allowed to attend the sale at Sotheby’s headquarters on Monday night, after several virtual seasons owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In New York, the sale of two paintings by the pop-art master Andy Warhol was also highly anticipated: his famous ‘Nine Marylins’ (1962), a series of faces of the movie star Marylin Monroe, in black and white, was sold for $47.3 million, while a ‘Sixteen Jackies,’ depicting Jackie Kennedy, found a buyer for $33.8million.

In a sign of the buyers’ appetite, a total of four works sold for more than $50 million. 

An example of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings, titled ‘Number 17, 1951,’ sold for $61.1 million, a new auction record for the American artist who died in 1956, while a massive work by abstract painter Cy Twombly went for $58.8 million.

Last week, Christie’s sold all the lots for sale from the collection of Texas businessman Ed Cox, who died in 2020, including works by the greatest of the Impressionists such as a painting by Gustave Caillebotte which sold for $53 million, a record for the French painter. 

SOLD FOR $33MILLION: ‘Abstraktes Bild’ by Gerhard Richter, which he painted in 1993, on display at Sotheby’s

SOLD FOR $24.4MILLION: William de Kooning’s ‘Untitled XXXIII’, which was executed in 1977 was sold for $24.4 million at the auction on Monday night


 SOLD FOR $16.9MILLION: Artist Brice Marden’s 11 (to Léger) painting which was executed between 1987 and 1988 (left); SOLD FOR $17.7MILLION: Artist Agnes Martin’s Untitled #44 painting presents a vast canvas in which slender bands of powder blue, crimson and ivory alternate across the surface (right)

SOLD FOR $58.8MILLION: Cy Twombly’s epic Untitled from 2007 is a commanding and irrefutable embodiment of the energy and inspiration that characterize the artist’s late career, writes Sotheby’s

SOLD FOR $1.96MILLION: ‘Baccarat Crystal Set’, which was created in 1986 by Jeff Koons, is on display at the Sotheby’s 


SOLD FOR $33.9MILLION: Andy Warhol’s masterwork Sixteen Jackies shows the face of Jacqueline Kennedy—repeated sixteen times (left); SOLD FOR $4.9MILLION: Robert Ryman’s ‘Untitled’ painting (right)


SOLD FOR $18.9MILLION: Willem De Kooning’s painting ‘Untitled IV’; SOLD FOR $21.5MILLION: Sigmar Polke’s painting ‘Rasterbild mit Palmen’

‘This is a wonderful market tribute to a collection built on ruthless taste,’ said art expert and consultant Erica Samuels.  

Auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s have shown optimism over this fall auction season, ensuring they have sufficient works to keep up with demand, which has remained high despite the pandemic.

Billionaire Macklowe married Patricia Landeau in 2019 in Brooklyn, after erecting a a 42-foot-tall message to everyone in Manhattan, including Burg, that he’d found a new woman.

Macklowe installed portraits of himself and Patricia on the side of the building at 432 Park Avenue, which includes a floor of luxury living space that was hotly contested in his split with Burg. 

In the end, Harry got to keep the multi-unit located on the 78th floor at the corner of Park Avenue and East 56th Street and is now decorating it the building as he sees fit. 

At the time, Macklowe told The New York Times: ‘Since I wasn’t getting married during the summer in the Hamptons, I wasn’t able to hire an airplane with a banner to go up and down the shoreline. 

‘I thought: ‘I own a building. Why don’t I just hang a banner from my own building?”

But passersby expressed their embarrassment for Macklowe’s wives. ‘Is it romantic? No, because I think he’s doing it more for himself than for her. He’s doing it as a F.U. to his ex-wife,’ said one woman at the time. ‘It’s your ego if you’ve gotta make your head that big,’ said another.

SOLD FOR $26.2MILLION: Pablo Picasso’s Figure (Projet pour un monument à Guillaume Apollinaire)

SOLD FOR $2.4MILLION: Sigmar Polke’s ‘Seit Benzin- Und Heizölpreise Fallen, Wundert Mich Nichts Mehr’ from the 1980s


SOLD FOR $24.3MILLION: Philip Guston’s painting ‘Strong Light’ (left); SOLD FOR $61.1MILLION: Jackson Pollock’s painting Number 17, 1951 (right) 

SOLD FOR $20.9MILLION: Cy Twombly’s painting ‘Untitled’ from 1961 was sold at the Sotheby’s auction


SOLD FOR $11MILLION: Robert Rauschenberg’s painting Crocus (left); SOLD FOR $15.2MILLION: Created in 1985, Jeff Koons’s Aqualung is a replica of an Aqua-Lung ‘SeaQuest” scuba vest, paradoxically fabricated in bronze (right)

SOLD FOR $12.7MILLION: Lucio Fontana’s painting Concetto Spaziale, Attese, features 12 rhythmic slashes on a white monochrome canvas

Burg filed for divorce in 2016, after learning that Harry had been putting his French mistress Patricia, who is in her early 60s, up for at least two years in another property, not far from the conspicuous display.

Their divorce was messy and the battle highlighted the fabulous lifestyle enjoyed by the uber-wealthy real estate magnates – including Macklowe’s $41million superyacht Unfurled. 

Divorce lawyers for Burg claimed in court that Macklowe had not paid taxes since 1983 and despite the Macklowes being worth up to an estimated $2 billion, lawyers for Macklowe tried to downplay his wealth in 2017. They insisted he was worth negative $400million. Linda’s team said he used accounting tricks to hide his true value. 

Harry and Linda owned a palatial Plaza home, and a multi-million-dollar estate in East Hampton on coveted Georgica Pond, where neighbors include Steven Spielberg, Ron Perelman. 

SOLD FOR $10MILLION: Jasper Johns’s painting ‘Untitled’ was executed in 1981-82


SOLD FOR $12MILLION: Franz Kline’s painting Crosstown (left); SOLD FOR $8.3MILLION: Robert Irwin’s painting Untitled (right) 


SOLD FOR $1.9MILLION: Robert Gober’s sculpture Untitled from 1991-94 (left); SOLD FOR $1.1MILLION: Christopher Wool’s sculpture Untitled (right)

SOLD FOR $6MILLION: Brice Marden’s Point from 1969 is a paradigmatic example of the artist’s highly celebrated monochrome paintings of the 1960s


SOLD FOR $1.8MILLION: Tauba Auerbach’s critically acclaimed Fold paintings (left); SOLD FOR $3.1MILLION: Gerhard Richter’s photo painting Sammler mit Hund (right)


SOLD FOR $2.4MILLION: Sigmar Polke’s experimental body of work, Untitled from 1990 (left); SOLD FOR $1.8MILLION: Executed in 2005, Untitled is a powerful example from Wade Guyton’s most famous series, popularly called the Flaming U’s (right)

SOLD FOR $1.1MILLION: A seminal early example of Michael Heizer’s series of Displacement Paintings from the 1960s, Track Painting is a graphically potent and conceptually rigorous iteration of the artist’s singular geometric vocabulary executed on an ambitious scale, writes Sotheby’s 


 The painting entitled ‘Untitled (Red Butterfly) by painter, draftsman, and sculptor Mark Grotjahn sold for $5.6million at the auction (left), while a painting by Rudolf Stingel sold for $2.8 million (right)

SOLD FOR $3MILLION: Agnes Martin’s Untitled #13 is a breathtakingly assured expression of the artist’s mesmerizing, striated facture, writes Sotheby’s

The Macklowes have had their property for nearly 30 years, and it includes a pool, main residence and, according to aerial photographs, an additional building; property site Zillow.com lists the off-market value for the estate at $7.6million.   

After Harry informed Linda he was leaving her for Ms Landeau, president of the French Friends of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the New York Post reported that he also shelled out nearly $11million for another home on Georgica Pond – across the water from the woman he’s trying to divorce.

And the Macklowe homes in their beloved Manhattan are nothing short of New York City royalty. Ten years ago, they bought the 7th floor of the Plaza Hotel for $52million – making it the most expensive apartment in New York at the time. (The floor actually contained seven apartments, which they gutted and renovated.) Now it comprises a 14,000-square-foot condo with its own art gallery, dressing room, maid’s room, library and 54 windows. 

Harry Macklowe and Linda pictured before their divorce at the AFIM Photography Gala at Waldorf Astoria on October 29, 2007 

One of the Macklowes’ most prized possessions is their award-winning 150-foot, $41million yacht, Unfurled, as pictured in a rendering from the shipyard that built it

The couple – predictably – feudied about the value of the Plaza digs, and Linda insisted it’s worth $55million and Harry claiming it’s worth nearly double that amount. 

Their extravagant assets aren’t limited to property, however; Linda has also amassed an art collection that is so massive that she has to keep many pieces in storage. A trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim – an honor she secured after donating $2.5million to the museum – Linda has been carefully curating and increasing her collection for decades, including works by artists such as Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Andy Warhol and Gerard Richter. 

Author Vicky Ward, in her 2014 book The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons, quoted a friend of Linda’s as describing her passion for art as an ‘obsession for all the right reasons … it truly began to be the dominant, driving force in her life.’

Earlier in their marriage, if Linda ‘liked something, she would make a commitment, and then she’d bring Harry by later to see it,’ her friend and confidant, art dealer Andrew Fabricant, says in Ward’s book. ‘And then a decision would be made.’

Harry had a different interest in the art, Ms Ward writes, quoting an art advisor: ‘Harry loves [bidding at auction] for the theater, for the social aspects, ’cause everybody’s there. And he likes to be seen out.’

‘An assistant helps her hang the artwork in their homes, schemed so minimalistically that the decor has been described by one regular visitor as ‘the bible by Florence Knoll … You could have opthalmological surgery on any given surface,’ Ms Ward writes. ‘Liz, their daughter, has been heard to joke that the kitchens in the Macklowe homes serve but one peculiar purpose: ‘My mother goes in there to open her mail.’

Following his split from his wife, the New York Post reported that Mr Macklowe snapped up a new $11million residence (pictured) on Georgica Pond in East Hampton – where he and his wife already own an estate

Mr Macklowe’s new Hamptons home, which he has been enjoying with Ms Landeau, features four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms and both pond and ocean access

Mr Macklowe’s property at 432 Park Avenue – the highest residential tower in the Western hemisphere – has been a particular bone of contention in divorce proceedings

Mr Macklowe’s property at 432 Park Avenue – the highest residential tower in the Western hemisphere – has been a particular bone of contention in divorce proceedings

Following the Macklowes’ purchase of the Plaza property in 2007, Ward writes, the couple began entertaining and showing off their art in their new apartment, giving a party every spring for 300 people – with the guest list including names such as the Lauders – of Estee Lauder cosmetic fame – and other movers-and-shakers in New York high society.

And while the couple may have had varying interest in – and passion for – art, there was one uniting love that endured throughout their marriage: sailing, particularly their superyachts.

For more than a decade, they devoted themselves to their 112-foot yacht, Unfurled, a sleek and luxurious three-cabin boat from respected Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman – which credited the Macklowes with ‘pushing it to a higher level of custom construction,’ according to MegaYacht News.

Harry and Linda went sailing every summer, and the boat was one of their most prized possessions – but they eventually upgraded, commissioning a 150-foot yacht of the same name from shipyard Vitters which was delivered to them in 2015. The interior designer insisted the ‘exceptional project defies convention in many ways.’

The new Unfurled was a finalist for multiple Showboat Design Awards this year – in addition to winning the World Superyacht Awards 2016 in the category of ‘sailing yacht 40m and above.’

The Macklowes enjoyed spending time together on the water, according to an unnamed friend in Vicky Ward’s book – despite an often fractious relationship; ‘They drive each other crazy and they can’t live without each other,’ Ms Ward quoted a friend as saying.

The couple married in 1959 and had a son and daughter, and Linda seemed to be a behind-the-scenes force in Harry’s real estate deals. ‘In interviews, Harry always referred to his wife as better than him,’ Ms Ward writes. ‘She’s brilliant. She’s just fantastic. I don’t know why she married me, but she’s extraordinary.’ 

She stuck with Harry though his rollercoaster real estate moves; her husband earned a reputation early on as a risk-taker and a lovable rogue, making deals that left him on the brink of financial collapse multiple times – but always bouncing back. His overnight demolition of welfare hotels in 1985 sparked a backlash that even led to Mayor Ed Koch returning Macklowe’s campaign contributions.

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