Albee Auction Raises $12.5 Million for Montauk Foundation

"Meditation," at left in Edward Albee's loft, was one of two Milton Avery paintings in the Sotheby's sale of his collection on Tuesday. It sold for $3.7 million. Sotheby's

Tuesday morning’s sale of The Collection of Edward Albee at Sotheby’s in New York City broke records for many of the artists and was a rare “white glove sale,” meaning all  105 lots sold. The auction raised $12.5 million to support The Edward F. Albee Foundation, which provides residencies for writers and visual artists in Montauk, Long Island.

Mr. Albee established the foundation in 1967, flush from his success with plays such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “A Delicate Balance.” He made provisions in his will that his art and decorative object collection be sold to benefit the foundation, and his will was honored after his death last year. Most of the art he collected had been placed in his Tribeca loft.

The auction featured work by Milton Avery, Lee Krasner, John Cage, and many more artists, some more well-known than others. Avery’s “Meditation,” from 1960,  sold for $3.7 million, exceeding its estimate of $2 million to $3 million. Three bidders drove it to the second highest price paid at auction for the artist.  A second Avery, “Two Nudes” from 1954, did not fare as well, selling below its estimate of $400,000 to $600,000 at $372,500.

Three-quarters of the lots offered, however, did exceed their high estimates. The sale also featured 16 new auction records for works by artists such as Ms. Krasner, whose acrylic and gouache on paper sold for $588,500, three times its high estimate of $180,000. Mr. Cage, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Albert Eugene Gallatin were some of the other record breakers. John MacLaughliln’s “V-1957” attracted six spirited bidders who raised the lot high over its $80,000-$120,000 estimate to a final price of $516,500.

Amy Cappellazzo, who is Chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, explained the enthusiasm as an appreciation of “Edward's canny eye and thoughtful understanding of the artistic process” by a broad collecting audience.  In a release she said that they understood that what was on offer was “a slice of New York intellectual history.”