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Tremaine Collection to be Sold at N.Y. Auction : Art: Fifty works from the acclaimed mix of 20th-Century art will go on block this fall at Christie's. The sales could exceed $35 million.

June 07, 1991|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | TIMES ART WRITER

Fifty works from the acclaimed Burton and Emily Hall Tremaine collection of 20th-Century art will be sold this fall at Christie's New York. The Park Avenue auction house has estimated that the sales--including works by giants of modern and contemporary art--will bring a total of more than $35 million.

Eighteen of the most valuable pieces will be offered in a Nov. 5-6 sale of Impressionist and modern art. The top paintings include "Le Petit Dejeuner" by Fernand Leger, valued at $8 million to $10 million; "Composition," a 1942 work by Piet Mondrian ($4 million to $6 million); and "Nature Morte Avec Poires" by Juan Gris ($3 million to $4 million).

Christie's Nov. 12-13 auction of contemporary art will include 25 pieces from the Tremaine collection. The most highly valued lots are Jasper Johns' 1959 mixed-media painting, "Device Circle" ($6 million to $8 million); Willem de Kooning's 1960 abstraction, "Villa Borghese" ($2.5 million to $3.5 million), from his "East Hampton" series; and Alexander Calder's 1947 mobile sculpture, "Bougainvillea" ($900,000 to $1.2 million).

The remaining seven pieces will be sold in Christie's fall auctions of American art and prints.

In 1988, during the height of auction frenzy, Christie's sold 32 major contemporary works from the Tremaine collection for $25.8 million--still an auction record for a single-owner sale of contemporary art. The announcement of the upcoming sales--which will liquidate the Tremaine estate--is the first indication that the fall auction season may excite interest in the contemporary and modern art market, which has fallen precipitously since speculators vanished and the recession took hold more than a year ago.

Burton Tremaine, who died earlier this year, was a manufacturer of industrial lighting and sheet-metal products. He collected art for 50 years with his wife, Emily Hall Tremaine, who died in 1987.

An exhibition from their collection toured U.S. museums in 1947. Other Tremaine exhibitions subsequently have been hosted by the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn., which currently features "Delaunay to De Kooning/Modern Masters From the Tremaine Collection." Works in that show are among those in the upcoming auction.

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