Art lovers get a glimpse of the private collection of one of the world’s most famous artist duets when Sotheby’s auctions the works of the artists Cristo Javashev and his wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris in February.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, professionally known by their names, gained international fame in the 1960s by draping entire buildings, bridges, island coasts and New York’s Central Park in colourful fabrics – temporary, free installations that often took years to set up and then attracted millions of visitors. After the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009 at the age of 74, Christo piled up some 7,500 barrels of oil in an Egyptian mastaba-shaped grave that he floated in Lake Serpentine in London two years ago. Cristo died in May at the age of 84.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude during their art installation Gateway in Central Park, New York, in 2005. Photo by Wolfgang Woltz.


The succession of Cristo V. Javachev.

Over the years, the couple have accumulated a collection of more than 400 works, which they have hung from floor to ceiling in their New York home studio. Among them are works that they received as gifts or that they exchanged with other post-war artists they admire, such as Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein and Mimmo Rotella. Sotheby’s expert Simon Shaw said the sale of the estate’s works, estimated at $4 million, will be bribed by paintings and works on paper whose small scale contrasts with the couple’s oversized art.

More information about Christo and Jeanne-Claude

It is the intimate universe in which the artists lived, not their public persona, Shaw said, adding that one feeds one another. Every wall in his studio breaks down the elements we see in his practice.

The chairmanship of Jerrit Rietveld Hoge.



On a wall near the kitchen is everything from Andy Warhol’s Jackie from 1964, estimated at at least $975,000, to Klein’s monochrome painting Untitled Blue (IKB 19) from 1958, estimated at at least $375,000. On his refrigerator were a few boxes of biscuits that belonged to Warhol, one of them in the shape of a banana. It’s supposed to sell for $365.

One of the oldest and largest pieces in the auction is the Hoge Gerrit Rietveld armchair from 1919, which the couple admired during a visit to the collector Martin Visser in the Netherlands. In 1963, a collector offered them a chair in exchange for one of their emblematic works, a package. When the couple left Paris for New York in 1964 with their young son, the chair became the most prized possession of the couple, explains studio director Lorenza Giovanelli. They only brought a few suitcases, mattresses and this chair, Giovanelli said. It should sell for at least $97,500.

Bacon & Egg, Ice Cream & Steak from Claes Oldenburg.



Other items in the auction reveal little-known friendships between artists and contemporaries, such as Poppionier Klas Oldenburg, known for his brilliant metal sculptures of everyday objects and food in the form of soft materials such as vinyl. Although their artistic styles may seem different, Giovanelli said that the artists met when they lived side by side at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City in 1964 and then briefly had studios in the same Soho building that Christo later bought. Sales include a trio of plaster statues of ice cream, steak, bacon and eggs that Mr. Oldenburg painted in the early 1960s, which valued at least $49,000.

They were souvenirs, and each piece had a meaning, Giovanelli said about the collection.

According to Sotheby’s, the auction will also include works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude from their own careers. She said the proceeds from the auction will go to the estate, which hopes to set up an art fund. But for the time being the artist’s studio remains active, as the workers plan to install the artists’ final project, the packing of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, next September. We promised to fix it, she said.

Christo’s latest drawing is a representation of his next posthumous project, Triumph Arch packed, which will open in September. Photo: Andre Grossman


The succession of Cristo V. Javachev.

Email Kelly Crow at [email protected].

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