Paintings, jewelry owned by Marylou Whitney head to auction
Two paintings by noted artist Sir Alfred Munnings that hung in Marylou Whitney’s Kentucky home are going up for sale at Sotheby’s in New York City – one of which the auction house expects to fetch $3.5 million.
Sotheby’s Chairman Ben Doller called Munnings’ “Mahmoud Being Saddled for the Derby,” from 1936, a “10 out of 10.”
“It’s a fantastic painting,” Doller said. “Munnings was one of the great painters of the 20th century. The scale is fantastic. He captures the color of the horse – the coat of the horse. He has the trainer saddling the horse, he has the owner with the top hat, the jockey. It’s a tour de force.”
The large painting, 39-by-51 inches, was commissioned by Mahmoud’s owner, Aga Khan III. Whitney’s husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, bought the horse and the painting in 1940. It goes up for sale next Friday, Jan. 31, as the centerpiece of the 19th Century European Art auction. (Even though the painting was made in the 20th century, Doller explained that it is in the style of 19th-century sporting art of which Munnings is regarded as one of last masters.)
The second Whitney painting, a smaller Munnings oil on canvas, “My Horse Anarchist,” is currently gathering bidders on the Sotheby’s website. The depiction of Munnings’ own horse with a stable boy holding its reins, is expected the sell for between $200,000 to $300,000. On Friday afternoon, the top bid was $140,000.
When reached on Friday, Whitney’s husband John Hendrickson said he is selling the paintings as well as some of her jewelry at Sotheby’s to raise funds to pay off estate taxes. He said he will also sell Whitney’s Thomas Hart Benton painting through Sotheby’s as well.
“I hate to part with it, but it was a business decision,” Hendrickson said.
The Sotheby’s items are a fraction of what Hendrickson will be auctioning off. He said 99.9 percent of Whitney's belongings that will go up for sale will be sold this summer in Saratoga Springs in order to raise funds for a permanent clinic on the Saratoga Race Course’s backstretch. Items to be sold then include jewelry and one of her cars, a Jaguar.
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