A Romanian Has Made One Billion Dollars of Art!

Ileana Sapir, dubbed the “Queen of Art” was born in Bucharest in 1914, the industrialist family of a Jew. Left the country 17 years later she founded two art galleries in New York and Paris. Ileana gathered along life an impressive collection of paintings and sculpture, estimated at one billion dollars.

A Romanian Has Made One Billion Dollars of Art! (2)

In 2007, after the death of Ileana, her heirs sold part of the collection, for 600 million dollars, the largest private transaction in history. Ileana, daughter of Michael Sapir, one of the most prominent industrialists at the beginning of last century, was born on 24 October 1914 in Bucharest, and “grew up in luxury, surrounded by nannies and governesses,” wrote New York as Times in 2007, after her death. Ileana biography is constructed of spectacular landmarks. In 1931, at 17, Leo Castelli Ileana married an Italian from a family of art dealers.

A Romanian Has Made One Billion Dollars of Art! (2)

 The first gallery in your living room

The couple moved to Paris in 1935 and four years later, Leo Castelli opened a gallery in the French capital. The two, along with their daughter, Nina, but left Europe when war broke out and went to America, where they had to take over again. In 1957, Leo Castelli and Ileana have opened an art gallery right in the living room of their own apartment in Manhattan, helped by the painter John Graham, Ileana’s mother’s second husband, who introduced the New York art world. Leo and Ileana were divorced in 1959, but already taste Romanian woman caught artwork transactions and, after marrying a second time, Michael Sonnabend, returned to Europe in Rome, then Paris. In the French capital, Ileana started with opening of an exhibition with works by his stepfather, John Graham, and in 1962 opened his own gallery in the French capital, promoting the works of contemporary American artists as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine , James Rosenquist and Robert Morris.

“The success was guaranteed,” wrote New York Times. “Michael, her husband, was known for philosophical discussions, Ileana Sonnabend sold as art exhibitions and arrange future.”

 Expensive gifts from those promoted

In the early ’70s, Ileana opened “Sonnabend Gallery” in New York on Madison Avenue, with photographic work and art-deco French. Then, the post-minimalists promoted American artists such as John Baldessarin or Mel Bochner , but also Europeans Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz and Gilberto Zorio. Press one already nicknamed “Queen of Art” and “Mama Pop Art.” In the ’80s, Ileana Sonnabend gave America its market debut chance-not painters Germany Penck and Georg Baselitz, and artists like Peter Halley and Terry Winters.

Meanwhile, Ileana has enriched and personal collection, considered by connoisseurs “amazing and enormous” part built from the work of artists whom he promoted and offered him some of their works, the other from acquisitions inspired of works that would increase their value over time.

Heirs: daughter and adopted son

At her death on October 21, 2007 at 92 years, Ileana Sonnabend’s heirs she left her  daughter Nina and adopted  son Antonio Homem, a collection valued at over one billion dollars. Nina and Antonio part of the collection sold in 2008 for 600 million dollars. It was considered by the prestigious New York Times largest private transaction in history.

Andy Warhol  made her portrait

Artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987), friend of Ileana, made it a double portrait in 1973, when he was already the largest current personality Pop Art in the United States. Outstanding illustrator, painter, photographer and filmmaker, Warhol left behind a work exceptional. His best known works are “Eight Elvises” (a painting by 8 profiles of Elvis Presley, sold 100 million dollars in 2009), “Turqoise Marilyn” (a portrait of Marilyn Monrţ, sold 80 million dollars in 2007) and “Green Car Crash” (a painting sold in 2007 to 71.7 million dollars).

A Romanian Has Made One Billion Dollars of Art! (1)

She had paintings with Liz Tatlor and Marylin Monroe

Selling Ileana collection was, in fact, in two transactions. Gagosian Gallery has bought 200 million dollars, several works by Warhol and a group of art dealers gave 400 million dollars the rest of the collection.

Ileana followers, Nina Sundell and Antonio Homem, did not reveal the name of buyers, but the American press has identified. According to the New York Times, Gagosian Gallery bought for 200 million dollars, several works by Andy Warhol, including “Four Marylins” which is the famous Marilyn Monroe, two portraits of Liz Taylor and three paintings series “Death and Disaster”. The other transaction, 400 million dollars was awarded by GPS Partners, a dealers group that represented the many collectors of art.

The picture with the stuffed eagle, banned from sale

The most famous painting in the collection remained Ileana and inherited by his children called “Canyon”, conducted in 1959 by the American artist Robert Rauschenberg. Antonio Homem, adopted son of Ileana in 1981, announced that the work that is centered around a stuffed bald eagle, can not be sold due to a U.S. federal laws that prohibit trafficking in endangered species.

A Romanian Has Made One Billion Dollars of Art! (3)

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