Published: September 19, 2023
LOS ANGELES — David Campbell Killen, auctioneer and owner of David Killen Gallery in New York City, passed away tragically in a multi-car accident at age 64 on August 11, 2023, in Los Angeles, while on vacation, much to the shock and deep sadness of his family, friends, staff and the larger antiques community.
David was born in Oakland, Calif., and lived in University City, Mo., before moving with his family to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1975. He graduated with a BA in art history from Vassar College in 1982. Following college, he worked at several jobs, including as a paralegal, a Metropolitan Museum of Art guard and stand-up comedian in Greenwich Village. Starting as a teenager, David was fascinated by antiques and flea markets and began to teach himself, through reading, how to identify items of historical value. He loved finding something unique, old and of beauty. This was his lifelong source of happiness.
To strike out on his own, David moved to Santa Monica, Calif., where he opened his own antiques business. It was there he received his GIA (gemologist) certificate. After five years, though, he came back to New York City and opened up an antiques store on Madison Avenue. He wanted to be closer to the busy Chelsea antiques district, however, where he eventually opened David Killen Gallery on West 25th Street. After gaining a license to be an auctioneer, he began conducting live auctions at his gallery twice a month, which he continued to do up to his death. His auctions soon went online, bringing him international bidders.
David Killen Gallery was a New York City focal point for antiques dealers and anyone interested in antiques. One of his most noteworthy auctions involved the sale of several Willem de Kooning paintings that he discovered in a storage locker in New Jersey, which made headlines in the media. His audience at the gallery reflected a loyal group who savored David’s knowledge, honesty, fairness, kindness and relished his humor. One of the highlights of his auctions was his playful interaction with audiences and his ability to keep his cool in the face of the unexpected. His friends and admirers came from all walks of life. We think about him every day, deeply miss him and wish that he was still with us. Donations in his name can be made to the Art Students League of New York.
Submitted by the family
November 28, 2023
November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
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