Drawing a fortune

Texas billionaire's Impressionist art trove fetches astounding $332 million at auction

Texas billionaire's Impressionist art trove fetches $332M at auction

Van Gogh_Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès
Van Gogh's Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès, estimated about $40 million. Photo courtesy of Christie's
Caillebotte_Jeune homme àsa fenêtre
Caillebotte's Jeune homme àsa fenêtre, estimated at more than $50M. Photo courtesy of Christie's
Cezanne_L'Estaque aux toits rouges
Cezanne's L'Estaque aux toits rouges, estimated at $35M-$55M. Photo courtesy of Christie's
Van Gogh_Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès
Caillebotte_Jeune homme àsa fenêtre
Cezanne_L'Estaque aux toits rouges

Impressionist masterworks from late Dallas oil tycoon Edwin L. Cox valued at $200 million sold for a whopping $332 million through a Christie's auction on November 11. 

"The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism" helped power Christie's to its second-highest total for an auction ever notched in a single evening — $751.9 million, which also included an evening sale of 20th century art  — notes Artnet.

Cox, an oil and gas tycoon for whom the SMU business school is named, died November 5, 2020 at the age of 99. He assembled the collection half a century ago. It featured works by Vincent Van Gogh, Gustave, Caillebotte, Paul Cézanne, and more.

When the sale was announced in July, Christie's had called the trove of about two dozen masterpiece paintings "one of the finest collections of Impressionist art to ever come to auction." 

According to Artnet, bidding was "extraordinarily competitive" on almost every painting. Four auction records were set.

In the end, the biggest sum was paid for Van Gogh's Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès (Wooden Cabins among the Olive Trees and Cypresses, 1889); it sold to Hugo Nathan of London for $71.4 million, more than $30 million over its estimated value.

Another Van Gogh, Jeune homme au bleuet (1890), a lesser-known working featuring a smiling man with a blue flower tucked in his mouth, made a jaw-dropping $40.5 million; it had been estimated at $5-$7 million.

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles acquired Gustave Caillebotte’s Jeune homme à sa fenétre (Young Man at His Window, 1876) for $46 million ($53 million with fees), setting a record for the artist, according to The Art Newspaper.

"We expect Caillebotte’s Young Man at His Window to become a new standout in our popular Impressionist gallery,” said Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, in a statement. “This extraordinary painting exemplifies Caillebotte’s carefully constructed and sharp-edged brand of urban realism—so distinct from the informal landscape aesthetic of artists like Monet and Renoir — and will allow us to present to our public a fuller picture of the art associated with the Impressionist movement.” 

According to Christie’s, the works were sold to collectors based in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. 

A portion of the sale proceeds will go toward educational purposes, the auction house says.