Originally created 01/17/04

Works by Picasso, Manet, Degas highlight art auction



GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Pablo Picasso's 1905 painting, "Boy With a Pipe," as well as major works by Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and others will headline an auction this spring of 44 paintings from a charitable foundation created by philanthropist Betsey Whitney.

"This is the most extraordinary group of paintings that Sotheby's has ever had the opportunity to auction and it is a great privilege for us to continue our long-term relationship with the Whitney family," said Bill Ruprecht, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby's Holdings, Inc., on Wednesday.

The collection has a pre-sale estimate of more than $140 million, the proceeds of which will go to the Greentree Foundation, which was created in 1982 by Whitney following the death of her husband, John Hay Whitney. Greentree was the name of the Whitney family home in Manhasset, N.Y.

The site now plays host to high-level international meetings devoted to the furtherance of peace, human rights and international cooperation, said Richard Schaffer, president of the foundation. He said the money will be used to fund activities at Greentree and other charitable and educational programs.

The auction highlight is expected to be "Boy With a Pipe," which a 24-year-old Picasso painted soon after settling in Montmartre, in northern Paris, Charles Moffett, co-director of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's, said in a statement. He called the work "one of the most beautiful of the artist's Rose Period paintings and one of the most important early works by Pablo Picasso ever to appear on the market."

It is estimated to sell for more than $70 million.

Also on the auction block is "Courses au Bois de Boulogne," which Moffett described as "one of Edouard Manet's greatest paintings." Painted in 1872, it depicts a sunny day at the horse races and features a top-hatted figure in the lower-right corner that is thought to be Manet's fellow racing enthusiast, Degas. It has a pre-sale estimate of $20 million to $30 million.

The Whitneys also owned two of Degas' best racing paintings, "Avant la Course" and "La Promenade des Chevaux"; each is expected to sell for $5 million to $7 million.

Other works include a group of four paintings by Sir Alfred J. Munnings, and a portrait of writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife by John Singer Sargent.

Betsey Whitney, who died in 1998, was also a philanthropist who gave to many medical institutions, including North Shore University Hospital, New York Hospital and Yale University School of Medicine. John Hay Whitney was editor in chief and publisher of The New York Herald Tribune from 1961-1966 and chairman of the International Herald Tribune from 1966 until his death. He also founded the venture capital firm of J.H. Whitney and Company.

The sale is scheduled for May 5 in New York City.