Times Mirror to Auction Art From Corporate Collection


Seventeen modern and contemporary artworks--valued at a total of $2.6 million to $3.9 million--from the collection of Times Mirror Co., parent company of the Los Angeles Times, will go up for auction in May and June at Christie’s New York. “Ocean Park No. 9,” a 1968 painting by the late Richard Diebenkorn from his trademark series of abstract landscapes, is expected to bring the top price, estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million.

The sale of works dating from 1914 to 1974 is the first phase of a plan to realize gains from pieces that have become too valuable or fragile to keep in busy corporate offices, said Vicki Cho Estrada, spokesperson for Times Mirror.

“We determined that a number of the works had appreciated to the point where there was some question as to whether they should continue to hang in offices and meeting rooms where they received too much direct sunlight or could be damaged by traffic or furniture-moving during special events,” she said.


An additional group of works will be auctioned in the future, but the company is not closing out its art collection, according to Estrada. She added that an as-yet-undesignated portion of proceeds from art sales will be reinvested in works by a younger generation of artists. Plans for the new collection are in the works.

Updating Times Mirror’s art holding is one aspect of an extensive renovation at the company’s headquarters. “Since we decided that we would not relocate Times Mirror or The Times, we have been investing a lot into the rebuilding and refurbishing of our offices and work areas,” Estrada said, “so this is part of a broad commitment.”

Times Mirror’s 110-piece collection was compiled in the 1960s and early ‘70s, in the midst of a nationwide wave of corporate art collecting that crested in the 1980s. Los Angeles’ most prominent corporate collectors were Arco and Security Pacific, which amassed huge art holdings and established exhibition spaces in their downtown headquarters.

Both those firms stopped buying art after a decade or so. Arco’s popular gallery, the Arco Center for Visual Art, closed in 1984. The Security Pacific Gallery at the Plaza shut down its program in 1992, after the bank merged with BankAmerica.

The three most valuable pieces consigned to auction by Times Mirror--the Diebenkorn and two works expected to bring $400,000 to $600,000 apiece--”Calliope,” a 1963 Abstract Expressionist painting by Hans Hofmann, and “Gondolier,” a 5-foot-tall bronze figure made in 1914 by Cubist sculptor Alexander Archipenko--will be sold May 12.

Times Mirror holdings to be offered in sales later this spring include paintings by Milton Avery and Helen Frankenthaler, sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg and Gaston Lachaise, a drawing by Henri Matisse and a pastel by Joan Miro.


Some of the pieces will be displayed in an auction preview exhibition at Christie’s showroom in Beverly Hills March 27 to 29.