Christie’s auctions George Michael’s extraordinary contemporary art collection

Proceeds from the mid-March sales will benefit the late singer-songwriter’s philanthropic causes

I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW by Tracey Emin, estimated at £40,000-£60,000
I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW by Tracey Emin, estimated at £40,000-£60,000 | Image: Christie’s Images Limited 2019

Christie’s is holding an evening auction of the late icon George Michael’s contemporary art collection in London on March 14, accompanied by an online auction running from March 8 to 15. 

Saint Sebastian by Damien Hirst, estimated at £1m-£1.5m
Saint Sebastian by Damien Hirst, estimated at £1m-£1.5m | Image: Christie’s Images Limited 2019

George Michael wrote, performed and produced so many exceptional songs in his career that his premature death on Christmas Day 2016 was greeted with an international outpouring of regret. What emerged after he died was the full extent of the philanthropic and charitable contributions he made during his lifetime. 

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Michael was also huge supporter of contemporary art, and emerging artists in particular. For fans of Wham! and Michael’s solo work, the George Michael Collection sale highlights his cultural literacy and the close connection he had with his contemporaries; for collectors, it is a chance to access significant pieces created by some of the most iconic artists of the past three decades. Over 170 lots are on offer, with estimates ranging from £400 to £1.5m, and all proceeds from the sales will go towards continuing his philanthropic interests.

Songbird by Bridget Riley, estimated at £400,000-£600,000
Songbird by Bridget Riley, estimated at £400,000-£600,000 | Image: Christie’s Images Limited 2019

Michael’s collection is notably strong on YBAs. Tracey Emin was a close friend and has a strong presence here, with neons, paintings, photographs and textile pieces. A dove suspended against a vibrant turquoise background from Damien Hirst’s Natural History series is another lot that will be watched closely, alongside a calf in formaldehyde pierced by arrows representing Saint Sebastian. 

Untitled by Cecily Brown, estimated at £350,000-£550,000
Untitled by Cecily Brown, estimated at £350,000-£550,000 | Image: Christie’s Images Limited 2019

The roll-call of British artists in the collection is impressive: Bridget Riley, Rebecca Warren, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sarah Lucas, James White and Angus Fairhurst are represented. 

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Michael was also a particularly strong collector of sculpture, with standout pieces by Eva Rothschild (who represents Ireland at the Venice Biennale this year), Marc Quinn, Thomas Houseago and Richard Long in the mix. There are also numerous well-known installations by Noble and Webster for sale, as well as one of the most beautiful paintingsCecily Brown has ever produced.

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