Arts philanthropist Anne Bass’s $250 million collection of paintings and statues is up for auction



A dozen works of art that belonged to the late Anne Hendricks Bass – a respected patron of the New York arts and former wife of Texas oil billionaire Sid Bass – will be auctioned in May at Christie’s, which expects that they bring in a nine-figure sum.


Christie’s said the pieces, which were in Bass’s Fifth Avenue apartment, are one of “the most important American collectionsto hit the market for decades – and with a sales estimate of over $250 million, also one of the most expensive.

Bass was perhaps best known for her contributions to American balletand her passion for dance is reflected in her collection which includes an original bronze cast by the impressionist artist Edgar Degas’ most famous sculpture“La Petite Danseuse de quatorze ans” or “Little 14-Year-Old Dancer”, which is expected to gross up to $30 million.

Also on sale is a pastel drawing by Degas that Bass hung in his bedroom titled “Dancer Attaching Her Slipper” which shows a dancer tying her ballerina shoe which could fetch up to $6 million, as well as an oil painting, “Woman in blue bathrobe with bare chest,” which is valued at $1.8 million.

Bass’s collection also includes three paintings by Claude Monet, each depicting a different scene: “Peupliers au bord de l’Epte” shows trees by the water in the French countryside, London’s Houses of Parliament are depicted” Parliament, Sunset” and a painting of Monet’s famous water lilies on the artist’s estate in Giverny, France, part of his “Water Lilies” series.

Also up for auction are two of Bass’s paintings by artist Mark Rothko, “Untitled (Shades of Red)” and “No. 1,” both of which feature fiery shades of red and orange and were created in early 1960s at the height of Rothko’s career, which collectively could fetch as much as $145 million, according to Christie’s.

The sale will also include two paintings of women standing by a window that Bass hung in the entrance to his apartment opposite each other – Balthus’ “Girl at a Window” and “Stue (Interior with an oval mirror)” by Vilhelm Hammershøi, with maximum sales estimates of $6 million and $2.5 million, respectively.


Bass’s collection is up for auction as the art market rebounds from the 2020 coronavirus-fueled recession. Art sales rose 29% last year to $65.1 billion, according to an annual report from Art Basel and UBS released this week, topping $64.1 billion in recorded sales in 2019. The $250 million Bass collection will be auctioned as part of Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale in May, going head-to-head with rival Sotheby’s auction of the second half of the Macklowe collection , which is expected to fetch around $200 million and make Divorce the most expensive art collection ever sold at auction.

Large number

$3.4 billion. That’s what Bass’ ex-husband Sid is worth, according to Forbes‘ real-time wealth tracking. Much of the art auctioned in May was purchased during their 22-year marriage.

Key Context

Low died of ovarian cancer last year at the age of 78. She married her college sweetheart and Texas oil heir Sid Bass in 1965 after they first met as a child. When the two parted ways in a highly publicized divorce in 1988, she walked away with an estimated $200-500 million settlement, which would have been the largest in Texas history at the time. Bass also kept the couple’s apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City, where she hosted the artworks auctioned in May. Bass was a staple of New York philanthropy and was particularly involved in supporting the New York City Ballet and her dance school, where she served on the board for 25 years. She has helped raise funds for the New York Public Library, Museum of Modern Art, New York Botanical Garden, and New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, as well as cultural institutions in Fort Worth, TX.

Further reading

Anne Bass, 78, patron of the arts and outstanding gardener, dies (New York Times)

Empress of Fort Worth (Texas monthly)

The art market surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021 with $65 billion in sales, according to a report (Forbes)

Macklowe Divorce Art Trove: See the highlights of the collection’s second auction (Forbes)

A $55 million Picasso painting could signal that the art market is rebounding (Forbes)


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