Luxe: Sotheby’s David Bowie Art Collecter 

Sotheby’s, London. Today and tomorrow around 380 pieces of David Bowies artwork collection has gone under the hammer – the lot is expected to sell for around $14 million dollars. 

The collection have spent the summer travelling around the world for art previews in London, Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong. The pieces have now come full circle back to the UK ready to be sold to the general public.

CHILD IN BERLIN… This painting is of the foot of the stairs of the ground floor of Iggy’s and Bowie’s Berlin apartment that David painted

Oliver Barkee, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe states that “David Bowie’s collection offers a unique insight into the personal world of one of the 20th Century’s greatest creative spirits,”.With such a large collection, Bowie would often keep much of it in storage but bring various pieces out from time to time to match his mood or where he was living, a Sotheby’s spokesman said.

Bowies started doing artwork for his band, The Kon- Rads
Bowies costume design for his band, The Konrads
Promotional work designed by Bowie for his band Kon-Rads
Amongst the pieces there is a Jean Michel Basquiat’s Air Power, which is expected to reach $4.7 million, as well as Frank Auerbach’s Head of Gerda Bohm and Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting by Damien Hirst. 

Bowie Art Collector

Many did not know that as well as being a musical artist and performer David Bowie was an extremist in collecting art. Apart from being an insanely talented musician. David Bowie the musician was also a curater and collector of art. David Bowie had an innate talent and passion to collect Elective art. I believe it was the only thing that fed his soul. He often stated that art was the only thing that he had ever wanted to own. Because it was a stable nourishment to him and would change the way he felt in the mornings. The same piece of artwork would make him feel different each morning depending on his current mood that day. 

Some of Bowie’s earliest art was his promotional work and costume design for his first band, THE KONRADS.

1965 stereo cabinet record player from Italian designers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni. Predicted to sell between $900 and $1,300

David Bowie may have been known worldwide as a singer but he had a deep rooted passion for art. He once stated; “I’ve gone for what seemed to be an important or interesting departure at a certain time, or something that typified a certain decade, rather than go for Hockneys or Freuds or whatever”. This demonstrates Bowies innate ability to buy into art that was not fashionable but translatable and identifiable to himself. He did not buy on the basis of reputation or for investment, but because of his own personal response to each artist and their work.
1995 painting by Damien Hirst. Sotheby’s estimates this will sell between $272,000 and $382,000
Matthew Collings Editor at BBC cultures states that Bowie kept his collection private because “he wasn’t pretentious about it, I think he was an absolutely genuinely enthusiastic collector who didn’t collect to be swanky or to big himself up. He really collected because he had a use for that work and it was a personal use. He looked at those things and they changed his state of being.”(BBC, 2016).


David started drawing, painting and making prints at art school. Whilst at the same time developing an interest for other people’s artworks, which made him begin collecting as well. In the 1990s, he also founded an art-book publishing company and worked as a writer and artist interviewer for British magazine Modern Painter

David Bowie was well read especially on Picasso. Whilst an editor for British magazine Modern Painters, Mr. Bowie interviewed numerous figures within the art world, including Balthus, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel.

Bowie’s art collection is comprised mostly of 20th-century British Art, which moves from Harold Gilman’s Interior (Mrs Mounter), painted during the First World War, to works by Damien Hirst from the 1990s by way of David Bomberg, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Eduardo Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield and Frank Auerbach. 

Postcards of Jean Michel Basquiat & Patrick Caulfield

A pink chair is just one of the pieces up for auction

But also during this same time period, Bowie was creating and a curator of his own art pieces. He created hundreds of paintings, chalk and charcoal drawings, collages of computer-generated images and sculptural objects that began to find their way into auctions and exhibitions.
David Bowie with his painting of Iggy Pop
David became a editor for the Modern Painter Magazine interviewing artists such as Tracy Emin
Bowie was actually a trained artist who graduated from Croydon’s college of Art. If he had not gone into music he would have definitely carved a successful career in being an artist, as art gave him something back and fused his creativity. He could wake up and be something new each day. 
Bowies Portrait inspired by his travels to South Africa in 1995
A drawing by David, whose talent had no bounds

David Bowies passion for art further developed when he was in Berlin in 1976. He needed a lifeline and was badly affected by his addiction to drugs.  Because of this he needed a distraction and break from the music scene. 

David shared an apartment with the singer Iggy Pop. On the third floor of their apartment block was a dentist’s surgery. The painting is of a boy standing on the ground floor looking up towards the third. He is about to have a tooth pulled. This was the vision behind The Child in Berlin painting. And many others  paintings that would document his time in Berlin. 

Self Portrait by David Bowie
The art from Davids collection at Sotheby’s features art from British Artist Harold Gilman an artist whose work was inspired by post impressionism, Jewish Landscape artist Frank Auerbach whilst he also collected St Ives-based painter and sculptor Peter lanyon who was a a graduate of Penwith college in Cornwall whose work focused on landscapes and cliffs and was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism. His tastes varied from different movements. His passion for art was beyond the average of just having a piece of artwork hanging on the wall. To David Bowie it seemed as if it was a state of mind and the creation of a landscape on a blank canvas of emotions on a daily basis.

With such a large collection, Bowie would often keep much of it in storage but bring various pieces out from time to time to match his mood or where he was living, a Sotheby’s spokesman said.

Bowies art collection was by no mean ordinary and was extremely diverse and encompassed many different contemporaries such as African art that he became passionate about on a trip to South Africa in 1995 with his wife Iman.   

In an interview David stated “Art should be enough for me to develop my own dialogue with it,” (New York Times, 2003).

La Fin X

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