Dia Foundation to Sell Chamberlain, Newman, Twombly



New York’s Dia Art Foundation will sell works from its collection by John Chamberlain, Alfred Jensen, Barnett Newman and Cy Twombly at Sotheby’s New York this fall. The auction house’s Nov. 13 and 14 contemporary art sales will include 27 examples, anticipated to bring in excess of $20 million. The sale will allow the museum to start an acquisitions fund.

On the block will be 14 Twombly works from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s; some 10 of Dia’s 100-strong Chamberlain holdings; and Genesis—The Break (1946), the sole Newman work in the collection, an abstract painting estimated at $3.5-$4 million.

The news comes six years after the museum sold its Chelsea building for $39 million. In 2006, its longtime director, Michael Govan, departed to head the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Leonard Riggio, owner of Barnes & Noble, resigned from his board chairmanship the same year. Several other board members, including Werner Kramarsky, Glenn Fuhrman and Ann Tenenbaum also left. In 2008, the museum named Philippe Vergne, formerly a curator and deputy director at Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, as director.

Dia, which has housed its permanent collection in a former factory along the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y., since 2003, has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get back to Manhattan for years. Designs on a space at the southern entrance to the High Line (now the future site of the Whitney Museum) fell through in 2006. A decision to build on West 22nd Street was announced three and a half years ago, but seemingly stalled until the museum announced that it had bought the former Alcamo Marble building, at 541 W 22nd St., in Chelsea, for $11.5 million in 2011. Dia already owned the flanking buildings, at No. 545 and No. 535. Construction will begin next year, Vergne told the Wall Street Journal.

The foundation has picked a good time to sell the Newman, with his auction prices skyrocketing in recent years. His 10-foot-wide Onement VI (1953) set an auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s in May, selling for $43.8 million. Dia’s painting is just about two feet square.