Bloomberg Businessweek

An Estate Sale To Break a Billion

David Rockefeller wanted the proceeds of his 2,000-object estate to go to charity. Making it happen was … complicated
Henri Matisse, Odalisque Couchée aux Magnolias (Odalisque Lying With Magnolias), 1923

David Rockefeller kept a $90 million Picasso nude in his living room, wedged between two windows that overlooked East 65th Street. For him, art was meant to be lived with, not hidden away.

Rockefeller, the last surviving grandchild of Standard Oil Co. founder John D. Rockefeller, had a long-standing affinity for modern art and spent the better part of a century collecting works by Paul Gauguin, Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, and others. He was born wealthy, but over time his habit contributed significantly to his personal fortune. Particularly in the last decade of his life, as values in the art market ballooned, his paintings began to “constitute a very good portion of his personal estate,” says Peter Johnson, the Rockefeller

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