SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. – A rare, lost Jackson Pollock painting was withdrawn from a June 20 auction at J. Levine Auction & Appraisal. The sale of the painting has been postponed until further notice, but the auction house is already receiving private sealed bids.
The abstract, untitled gouache painting, which was found in December 2015 in a Sun City, Ariz., garage, generated interest from art collectors all over the world.
Auctioneer Josh Levine, owner and chief executive officer of J. Levine Auction & Appraisal, was scheduled to open the bidding at $5 million at 11 am Pacific Time.
Levine greeted the crowd and announced that he was withdrawing the painting.
“As you may know, this story has circled the globe,” said Levine. “We have had press from Finland to Australia and throughout the United States. This flood of interest has brought out potential new bidders to J. Levine’s from numerous countries. All bidders, especially new ones, must be properly vetted as not to hurt the value of the piece – should the bidder not be able to complete the transaction. Unfortunately, at this time, the new bidders did not pass the vetting process and we decided it’s best to be prudent and protect the value of this amazing piece.
“This was a tough decision; however, we represent our consignor and this is in their best interest.
“Over the next few days, we’ll announce plans for the next step to connect this piece of art history to its new owner,” Levine said.
Levine spent nearly 18 months and tens of thousands of dollars researching and authenticating the forensics and ownership history of the Pollock painting. He hired a private investigative team and a forensic expert to help him put the pieces of the puzzle together, with most of the mystery relating to his consignor’s half-sister, Jenifer Gordon (Cosgriff).
Gordon (Cosgriff) lived in New York and was a known, lifelong friend of Clement Greenberg, an influential visual art critic most closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-Twentieth Century; Hazel Guggenheim McKinley, a mid-Twentieth Century Modern artist and sister of Peggy Guggenheim; and Jackson Pollock. In addition, she also was in possession of various notable and listed art, including authenticated pieces by Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Hazel Guggenheim McKinley and Cora Kelley Ward. When she passed away in 1993, she bequeathed the paintings to her half-brother, J. Levine’s consignor.
One of the finds, a Kenneth Noland diamond-shaped acrylic painting titled “Replace!,” caught the attention of art collectors when J. Levine auctioned it in January 2016. A phone bidder from New Jersey won the piece for $110,000 hammer price. The Olitski, Ward and McKinley sold in the same auction.
The forensic report for the 22½-by-32-inch Pollock painting stated, among other findings, that “the dating of the painting to the mid-Twentieth Century is well established as no pigments or binding media introduced in the late 1950s and 1960s have been detected. Furthermore, the artist’s working materials and painting technique are illuminated.” The full forensic report was provided to interested bidders prior to the scheduled auction.
“Based on the investigative research and forensic findings, I believe this painting was one of Pollock’s missing gouaches in his catalogue raisonné or from the period of 1945 to 1949,” Levine said. “The forensic report really just reaffirmed what I already believed to be true based on the provenance.”
Levine said he is excited and confident the auction house will find a new owner for this rare piece.
For information, 480-496-2212 or www.jlevines.com.