Bank of America Will Auction Wyeth Paintings to Help Nonprofits
By Mary Romano
Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp. is selling two Wyeth paintings to help raise more than $1 million for three New York City nonprofit groups, including a parks restoration project founded by Bette Midler.
The second-largest U.S. bank will auction four paintings from its huge art collection on Nov. 28 at Sotheby’s, with the proceeds going to the nonprofits. The works include N.C. Wyeth’s “Port Clyde, Maine” and his son Andrew’s “The New Table,” which together carry a high estimate of $950,000.
The other paintings are Oscar Berninghaus’s “Opening the West (Stagecoach Through the Missouri Hills)” and William Trost Richards’s “Newport Beach,” each with a high estimate of $250,000. If all four works fetch their high estimates, they would raise $1.45 million.
“This is the first time we’ve done this, so we’ll have to wait and see,” Rena DeSisto, the bank’s head of arts and culture, said in a telephone interview.
The works will be part of Sotheby’s sale of American paintings, drawings and sculpture at the auction house’s headquarters in Manhattan. The overall sale, including works by John Singer Sargent and Georgia O’Keeffe, is expected to total between $45 million and $68 million.
Proceeds will go to the Police Athletic League, which provides educational and social programs for New York children; Midler’s New York Restoration Project; and the New York Public Library.
Bank of America has previously donated artwork to museums, though this is the first time it is auctioning pieces for charity.
“We wanted to make the outcome simpler rather than giving them the painting to sell themselves,” DeSisto said.
The bank’s collection consists of several thousand paintings, drawings, sculpture, lithographs, photographs and decorative arts. DeSisto said the collection is worth tens of millions of dollars, though she declined to give an exact figure.
Most of the artwork is on display at Bank of America offices across the country, public galleries located in the bank’s buildings and at museums that have been loaned artwork by the bank. Less than 10 percent is in storage, DeSisto said.
In October, the bank gave the St. Louis Art Museum two engraving plates and 13 printing proofs by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham. Both plates and six of the proofs are featured in the exhibition “George Caleb Bingham: The Making of `The County Election,”’ which opened at the museum on Oct. 12.
DeSisto said the bank also organizes its own shows, such as one focusing on three generations of Wyeth family paintings that will be on display next spring at the Newark Museum in New Jersey.