The late Boone Pickens' art collection is expected to fetch millions in auction for charity
Boone Pickens excelled at making money and collecting art.
On Oct. 28, interested parties will have a chance to pick up pieces from Pickens’ substantial collection of the latter, which auctioneers said features many of the most-established artists and painters in American Art history including Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran, N. Wyeth, Howard Terpning and G. Harvey.
Pickens’ collection (expected to draw more than $15 million in proceeds) will be offered to bidders in 75 lots, said officials with Christie’s Auction House in New York City.
“Mr. Pickens’ assemblage serves as an extension of himself, a kind of self portrait of the collector,” said Tylee Abbott, a specialist of American art at the auction house. “The art with which he chose to surround himself consistently depicts the bold, strong-willed personages of the West and the endurance of the American spirit.”
Officials said the collection also demonstrates Pickens’ dedication to Western art and a lifelong admiration of the boldness and creativity of the American pioneering spirit.
A significant piece of the collection is Remington’s "The Signal (If Skulls Could Speak)," painted in 1900, which officials expect to fetch at least $3 million.
Officials said that Remington’s Native American, painted within a traditional art historical archetype of a solitary figure on a rearing horse, is depicted as a heroic icon whose bravery defines the Western spirit. The painter’s talents as a storyteller are exemplified by the painting’s bold composition, which transports the viewer to an earlier era of the old West, they added.
Another key item that will be auctioned is N.C. Wyeth’s "Indian Love Call," which shows off a grandeur and romanticism that have come to define that artist’s career. Christie’s officials estimate the work will draw at least $2 million at the auction.
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Pickens’ collection also features similarly-styled historic depictions of American cowboys, ranging from Remington’s famed "Bronco Buster" bronze sculpture to Frank Tenney Johnson’s painting, titled “Wyoming Cattlemen.”
Christie’s officials said it also includes significant contemporary works by Western artists such as Howard Terpning, Bob Kuhn and G. Harvey, for whom he served as a major patron.
Plus, it includes works Pickens directly commissioned from leading landscape artists Clyde Aspevig and Wilson Hurley that depict his Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle.
Pickens, a Holdenville native, was an oilman, corporate raider, energy policy promoter and Oklahoma State University benefactor who died a year ago this week at the age of 91.
After studying petroleum geology at what is now Oklahoma State University, Pickens worked briefly for Phillips Petroleum before setting out on his own as a Texas wildcatter. In 1957, he founded what later became Mesa Petroleum, an independent natural gas and oil exploration and production company.
What Pickens became best known for, however, was his strategy to use targeted takeover attempts throughout the 1980s to both elevate the value of companies and fight for shareholder’s rights.
After retiring from Mesa in 1996 at the age of 68, Pickens established a hedge fund called BP Capital, which focused its investments in the energy industry.
Pickens also spent later years of his life championing American independence through diversifying the nation’s energy industry, including the use of renewable resources.
Christie’s officials said Pickens also is remembered as one of the most prolific philanthropists of his generation, having donated over $1 billion to various causes during his lifetime.
A signatory to the "Giving Pledge" with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Pickens’ philanthropy supported initiatives in health and medicine, at-risk youth, education and entrepreneurship, athletics and wellness, and environmental conservation, they said.
A past statement from Pickens explaining why he collected Western art is highlighted on the Christie's website.
“The history of the West is particularly rich in wisdom because of the strength of the individuals who lived it. They have given us an unsurpassed legacy of human values founded on such basics as morality, truth, duty, honor and country,” he stated. “I have collected Western art with a hope that it will help preserve these values for successful living and perpetuate them for future generations.”