It’s been over a year since Gordon Getty, 89, announced the formation of yet another major eleemosynary project to support the arts and charitable organizations. The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts is the latest development in a lifetime of large philanthropic donations by the Gettys, who also participated in the founding of SF Classical Voice.
By now, the new foundation has raised more than $172 million from two auctions of the late Ann Getty’s art collections, and Christie’s, which handles the transactions, has announced that the third and final auction will be held next month.
Ann Getty, who died three years ago, left behind a collection of paintings (by Mary Cassatt, Canaletto, and Henri Matisse), decorative furnishings, jewelry, European ceramics, Chinese porcelain, silver, European and Asian textiles, and a velvet sofa previously owned by Rudolf Nureyev.
Christie’s preliminary estimate of the worth of the collection was $180 million, so the final figure will be well over that. Designated beneficiaries of the sale include leading California- and San Francisco-based organizations with whom the Gettys have had longstanding relationships, among them the SF Conservatory of Music, SF Opera, the SF Symphony, University of San Francisco, the Berkeley Geochronology Center, and the Leakey Foundation.
A Christie’s spokesperson told SFCV about the completed auctions:
“The first installment, in October 2022, focused on [the art inside the Gettys’] Pacific Heights mansion and garnered more than $150 million. This past June, we sold the content from the Gettys’ Berkeley Hills estate, known as Temple of Wings, which totaled $21.9 million.”
The final installment will auction the contents from Wheatland, Ann Getty’s childhood home. Bidding runs Oct. 6–20, with a live auction in New York on Oct. 18 and 19 and the concurrent online sale ending Oct. 20.
Jonathan Rendell, deputy chairman at Christie’s, said:
“Ann Getty’s discerning eye for beauty found its ultimate canvas in the Wheatland estate, where her refined taste harmoniously wove together history, art, and nature into a tapestry of timeless elegance.
“We are proud to present this final installment of such a historic series of sales, in which the Gettys’ impeccable taste and high standards shine through the collection’s exceptional quality across a multitude of categories.”
Wheatland, originally a farm with walnut and peach orchards, is located on the outskirts of a small agricultural town in Northern California. Driven by romanticism rather than convenience, Ann Getty transformed her childhood home into her own vision of an English country house.
Faithful to the tradition, Wheatland seamlessly melds with its picturesque rural surroundings. The interiors, crafted meticulously, bring together collecting traditions tied to Ann Getty’s Dutch heritage. The gardens and orchards find representation in important Dutch old master still lifes by artists such as Balthasar van der Ast and Nicolaes van Veerendael.
The collection also features a noteworthy selection of English furniture and decorative arts, including pieces by Chippendale, Langlois, Ince and Mayhew, and Matthew Boulton.