When Christie’s was invited to sell the estate of Ann and Gordon Getty, the auction house was invited to the late couple’s home and “really told to take it all,” according to Elizabeth Seigel, Christie’s vice president and specialist in private and iconic collections. This includes what WWD can reveal is a museum-quality collection of textiles, handbags and home furnishings that will be available for auction across 10 sales.
The Getty family, as Seigel described, “is who many people know on the West Coast for the Getty Collection in Los Angeles. They really held court in philanthropic circles in San Francisco. Their home was a beacon of that world and now we are throwing the doors open to celebrate some of their favorite causes. We are selling all the contents of their home from paintings on the wall to furniture and textiles in the basement — all for philanthropic causes.” The family also holds immense political sway in California and has close relationships with officials including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Governor Gavin Newsom.
Mrs. Getty’s basement textile archive, including panels and swatches from France, England and India —many of them dating back to the 1700s — will be the primary focus of six online sales that will conclude Oct. 24. These sales will also include items from Mrs. Getty’s jewelry collection — much of it featuring important pieces from India along with jewelers like Ilias Lalaounis and Tiffany & Co. Additionally, there are handbags from her collection, including pieces from Hermès and Christian Dior.
“Quality is the current thread throughout the collection,” said Seigel. “The handbag collection is really special as well — there are some of the best names and styles, whether its Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton or VBH. They are bags you don’t often see at auction.”
Due to the sheer number of lots in the sale, Christie’s has not placed reserves on any of the online sales lots. Estimates for online sales start as low as $100, to encourage new bidders to enter the ring. Evening sales estimates are, of course, much higher — with a set of Meissen plates expected to realize a minimum $150,000.
“The Getty’s chose their favorite West Cost philanthropic causes to divide the money between — they show two different trajectories,” said Seigel. “Mr. Getty was a composer so some of the proceeds are going to the San Francisco Conservancy, the San Francisco Opera and Symphony. Mrs. Getty trained as an archaeologist, which I think speaks to her collection and how it digs into history. She chose to donate to the Leakey Collection and the Berkeley Geochronology Center at the University of San Francisco.”
Christie’s estimates that the entire Getty collection will bring in around $180 million for these charities combined.