Jane and Marc Nathanson, the Los Angeles philanthropic couple who are active on the board of the L.A. County Museum of Art, will be selling three works of modern art from their private collection at a Sotheby's auction scheduled for May 14 in New York.
Among the works the Nathansons are selling is Richard Diebenkorn's painting "Ocean Park #20," which the auction house estimates will go for between $9 million and $12 million. The painting is an early work from the Diebenkorn series created after the artist moved to Santa Monica.
Sotheby's said the painting was sold at auction in 1987 for $231,000, but it was not purchased by the Nathansons.
Marc Nathanson said in a phone interview that they purchased the painting from an L.A. dealer in 1988. He declined to disclose how much they paid, except to say that it was less than the $231,000.
"We're trying to fine-tune our collection as we're getting older," he said. The couple is focusing more on pop art and the works they are selling "don't really fit in with those interests."
The other works the couple is selling are a Richard Serra piece titled "Four Plates Up" -- a large-scale sculpture whose sales estimate is between $2.5 million to $3.5 million; and an untitled canvas by Sam Francis from 1979 that is estimated to go for between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
Sotheby's will preview the Diebenkorn work at its L.A. galleries at 9200 W. Sunset Blvd from March 26 to 28. It will be the only work from the Nathanson collection on view there.
Lisa Dennison, who is Sotheby's chairman for the Americas, said she has been working with the Nathansons on the sale.
"One of the things collectors like the Nathansons often do is to sell works that don''t fit with their collecting goals. They are able to free up space and to fund other projects," she said.
Jane Nathanson previously served on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. She is currently on the board of LACMA. The couple donated $10 million to LACMA in 2008 and has a gallery named after them in the museum's Broad Contemporary building.