THE LEGEND OF THE WEST: ICONIC WORKS FROM THE T. BOONE PICKENS COLLECTION
CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK | OCTOBER 28, 2020
“All history is a resource from which to draw wisdom. 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. I have collected Western art with a hope that it will help preserve these values for successful living and perpetuate them for future generations.” – T. Boone Pickens
New York – Christie’s is honored to announce The Legend of the West: Iconic Works from the T. Boone Pickens Collection, a landmark auction of American Western Art to be held on October 28 in New York. Famous for his larger-than-life personality, T. Boone Pickens was a legendary energy entrepreneur, a pioneer in shareholder’s rights and one of America’s best-known executives, as well as a philanthropist and civic leader. Pickens was also a visionary art collector who built a momentous collection over the course of his career. Spanning over a century, the collection features works by many of the most established artists in American Art history, including Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran and N.C. Wyeth, together with the most prominent contemporary painters in the genre, such as Howard Terpning and G. Harvey. Comprised of approximately 75 lots, the auction is expected to exceed $15 million, a portion of which will benefit charity.
Tylee Abbott, Specialist of American Art, comments, “Mr. Pickens’ assemblage serves as an extension of himself, a kind of self-portrait of the collector. 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. The ambition and daring embodied by these pioneers are the qualities that not only contributed to Mr. Pickens’ own legend as an American icon, but have also built the legend that is the West.”
Capera Ryan, Christie’s Deputy Chairman, comments:
“T. Boone Pickens was known for his transformation of the American energy industry as an entrepreneur, and for his generous philanthropy, but not as many know of T. Boone Pickens the art collector. Mr. Pickens would say it was the oil fields of Texas that gave rise to his success, but he always understood the importance of adapting to the energy industry’s constantly evolving landscapes. It was the Western landscapes and its inhabitants that inspired both his own art collecting and friendships with artists. Christie’s is honored to celebrate Mr. Pickens’ legacy as a passionate American steward and philanthropist and to share his dynamic vision of Western art with a global audience.”
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
T. Boone Pickens’ collection is distinguished by its scope, including masterpieces ranging from Frederic Remington’s The Signal of 1900 to Howard Terpning’s Flags on the Frontier from 2001. With this unique combination of both traditional and modern paintings, the dynamic works in the collection reveal Mr. Pickens’ deep understanding and dedication to the Western Art category and, moreover, his lifelong admiration of the boldness and creativity of the American pioneering spirit.
Frederic Remington’s remarkable oil painting The Signal (If Skulls Could Speak) is at the forefront of the collection (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000). Remington’s depictions of the action and drama of the American West were unrivaled among his generation, and this painting dramatically represents one of the enduring themes of his art, the Native American. Painted here within the traditional art historical archetype of a solitary figure on a rearing horse, Remington’s Native American is established as a heroic icon whose bravery defines the Western spirit. The painter’s talents as a storyteller are exemplified by this bold composition, which transports the viewer to an earlier era of the Old West.
N.C. Wyeth’s masterwork Indian Love Call (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000) similarly celebrates a Native American subject, with the grandeur and romanticism that have come to define the famed American illustrator’s career. The collection also features similarly-styled historic depictions of American cowboys, ranging from Charles Marion Russell’s Roping a Wolf (estimate: $700,000 – $1,000,000) to Frank Tenney Johnson’s Wyoming Cattlemen ($250,000-350,000).
In addition to the historic paintings, Mr. Pickens was also determined to collect significant examples by contemporary Western artists, such as Howard Terpning, Bob Kuhn and G. Harvey, for whom he served as a major patron. Pickens also directly commissioned from leading landscape artists Clyde Aspevig and Wilson Hurley specific works depicting his beloved Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. In this pairing of traditional and modern visions, Mr. Pickens’ collection was purposefully designed to fully capture the spirit of the West, thereby embodying the mentality that spurred his own life as an American pioneer and innovator.
Additionally, the sale will include two watches and an assortment of cufflinks belonging to T. Boone Pickens. These include the beloved Rolex Day-Date President that Pickens wore regularly since its purchase in 1964, the year he famously took the oil and gas company he founded, Mesa Petroleum, public. The offering of cufflinks includes those featuring the Mesa Petroleum insignia, oil drums, a bull and bear and Mr. Picken’s initials.
ABOUT T. BOONE PICKENS (1928-2019)
Thomas Boone Pickens, Jr. was born in the cattle town of Holdenville, Oklahoma in 1928. 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, one of America’s premier independent natural gas and oil companies.
What would gain Pickens’ renown both within and outside the industry, however, was his strategy of targeted acquisitions, as he utilized attempted takeovers throughout the 1980s to elevate the value of firms and draw attention to the cause of shareholder rights. After retiring from Mesa Petroleum in 1996 at the age of sixty-eight, the indomitable oilman established the hedge fund BP Capital, which focused its investments in energy. While building on his success in this new venture, Pickens also championed American energy independence through diversification, including the use of renewable resources.
Alongside his tremendous success in energy and finance, T. Boone Pickens is remembered as one of the most prolific philanthropists of his generation, having donated over $1 billion during his lifetime. A signatory to the ‘Giving Pledge’, his philanthropy was wide ranging and encompassed initiatives in health and medicine, at-risk youth, education and entrepreneurship, athletics and wellness, and environmental conservation. Through individual giving and the ongoing work of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, he made a transformative impact across the United States.
SELECT COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS
FREDERIC REMINGTON (1861-1909)
The Signal (If Skulls Could Speak)
oil on canvas
40 x 27 in.
NEWELL CONVERS WYETH (1882-1945)
Indian Love Call
oil on canvas mounted on plywood
45 x 68 in.
HOWARD TERPNING (B. 1927)
Flags on the Frontier
oil on canvas
37 ¼ x 56 in.
Painted in 2001.
G. HARVEY (1933-2017)
oil on canvas
42 x 60 in.
Painted in 1979.
The Legend of the West: Iconic Works from the T. Boone Pickens Collection
28 October 2020
20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York
24 October 10am-5pm
25 October 1pm-5pm
26 October 10am-5pm
27 October 10am-5pm