Rival Auction Houses Fight for $500 Million Art Collection

Art on sidewalkEstate plans can outline everything from the disposition of family heirlooms to the distribution of vast land and property holdings.  Recently, the $500 million art collection of the estate of shopping center magnate A. Alfred Taubman was in the news.  Taubman’s collection is thought to be one of the most valuable private art collections in the world.

Recently the New York Times published "Sotheby's to Auction A. Alfred Taubman's $500 Million Trove," detailing the war between the rival auction houses as they fought for the right to auction the collection.

Christie's and Sotheby's went back and forth with Taubman's family for months in an effort to win the bid. Both auction houses created mock catalogues for the collection and put exceptional effort into their presentations. The interesting question, however, is why there was a war in the first place?

Taubman was a long-serving chairman of Sotheby's. In fact, he is credited with turning the house around and making it a public company. To make the Sotheby’s connection even stronger, his son Robert is the director of Sotheby's and his stepdaughter works there as well. Truly, it would have been a very interesting family conversation if Christie's had won the right to auction the collection.

The article does not give an answer to that question. Most likely, this is an example of an estate administrator doing the job correctly and selecting the auction house that would make the most money for the estate.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your Houston estate plan provides for similar due diligence to benefit your loved ones.

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Reference: New York Times (September 3, 2015) "Sotheby's to Auction A. Alfred Taubman's $500 Million Trove"

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