David Bowie's art collection

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David Bowie owned an extensive private art collection included paintings, sculpture and furniture. Artist and writer Matthew Collings characterized the collection as "bohemian, romantic, expressive, emotional art".[1] Bowie was described by an art advisor as "a true collector. His acquisitions were not commercially motivated; he cared about the art, not the market. His was a deeply personal, eclectic collection, reflecting his British roots and his real passion for art."[2]

Notable artists and works in the collection[edit]

"Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own."

David Bowie to The New York Times in 1998[3]

"The only thing I buy obsessively and addictively is art."

David Bowie to the BBC in 1999[4]

Notable artists included in Bowie's collection included:

Basquiat's Air Power, estimated at US $3.5 million to be the most expensive single piece of art in Bowie's collection,[4] sold for $8.8 million in 2016.[2]

Bowie himself was a painter and sculptor, and works by his own hand are part of his collection. This includes a series of self-portraits he painted in 1995, one of which he used as the cover to his album Outside.[12][13]

2016 auction[edit]

"David’s art collection was fuelled by personal interest and compiled out of passion. He always sought and encouraged loans from the collection and enjoyed sharing the works in his custody. Though his family are keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance, it is now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired."

A statement from Bowie's family about the auction[14]

Around 350[2] pieces of art from Bowie's collection were put up for auction in November 2016. None of Bowie's own art was part of the auction, and the proceeds from the sale went to Bowie's family. An estimate by Sotheby's auction house estimated the value of the collection for sale at around US $13 million. Prior to the auction, some of the pieces were shown in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong.[4] The pieces up for auction represented about two-thirds of Bowie's entire art collection.[2]

Bowie's family sold the collection because they "didn't have the space" to store it.[5]

The auction exceeded expectations, and the entire collection was sold over two days for £32.9 million (app. $41.5 million), while the highest-selling item was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s graffiti-inspired painting Air Power, sold for £7.09 million.[6] Exhibitions of the works in London alone attracted over 51,000 visitors, the highest attendance for any pre-sale exhibition in London. The auctions themselves were attended by 1,750 bidders, with over 1,000 more bidding on line.[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Jones, Rebecca (14 July 2016). "David Bowie art collection revealed for the first time". BBC. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Reyburnnov, Scott (10 November 2016). "David Bowie's Seal of Approval Bolsters Art at Auction". Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kimmelman, Michael (14 June 1998). "David Bowie on His Favorite Artists". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Silva, Cristina (14 July 2016). "David Bowie's Art Collection Is As Beautiful As You Imagined". IBTimes. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Kennedy, Maev (14 July 2016). "David Bowie's private art collection to be unveiled for the first time". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sotheby's: David Bowie's Art Captivates Collectors
  7. ^ "David Bowie's Art Collection Set for Exhibition, Auction". Rolling Stone. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  8. ^ "A London interior: Harold Gilman painting in the Bowie Sotheby's sale". 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  9. ^ "One of two Wyndham Lewis paintings in the Bowie Sotheby's sale". 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  10. ^ Lockett, Dee (14 July 2016). "For $13 Million, David Bowie's Elusive Art Collection Could Be Yours". Vulture. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  11. ^ McElhatton, Noelle (22 August 2016). "Yeats painting owned by David Bowie for sale at Sotheby's in November". Antiques Trade Gazette. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Bowieart.com / David Bowie / Printmaking". Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Random notes". Newsweek. 10 December 1990. p. 94.
  14. ^ Monroe, Jazz (14 July 2016). "David Bowie's Art Collection Up for Sale". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Bowie Art Auction Nets $41 Million: Sotheby's". 13 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.