Rothschild Family Collection Fetches Over $62 Million in Unprecedented Auction at Christie’s New York

In a historic event, the private collection of the renowned Rothschild banking dynasty has captivated art enthusiasts and collectors alike, achieving an impressive $62.6 million in sales through multiple auctions at Christie’s New York. This landmark event signifies the first dedicated auction in North America of works from the French branch of the Rothschild family, offering a glimpse into a treasure trove of art, furniture, silver, ceramics, and jewellery.

Most lots in this extraordinary collection were acquired in the 19th century by Baron James Mayer de Rothschild and have remained in the family’s possession, preserving a rich legacy of artistic patronage. The showcased pieces reflect the Rothschilds’ unique taste, blending sumptuousness and domesticity.

One of the standout stars of the auction was Gerrit Dou’s masterpiece, “A Young Woman Holding a Hare with a Boy at a Window,” which fetched an impressive sum exceeding $7 million. The sale was not limited to paintings; it also featured ancient artefacts, including a first-century AD Roman Sardonyx cameo portrait of the Roman emperor Claudius, which garnered almost $116,000.

As these treasures change hands, the Rothschild collection’s auction showcases the family’s discerning eye for art and adds another chapter to the narrative of art history and cultural heritage.


Key Points:

  1. Diverse Collection: The auction featured a diverse range of items, including Old Masters paintings, ancient artefacts like a Roman Sardonyx cameo portrait, furniture, ceramics, silver, tapestries, and jewellery, providing insight into the Rothschild family’s distinct taste.
  2. Historical Significance: Many items in the collection had been kept away since the end of the 19th century, providing a rare opportunity for collectors. The auction showcased works acquired by Baron James Mayer de Rothschild, his wife Betty, and their son Alphonse.
  3. Notable Artworks: The auction’s highlights included Gerrit Dou’s 17th-century painting “A Young Woman Holding a Hare with a Boy at a Window,” emphasizing the family’s patronage of Old Masters.
  4. Ancient Artifact: A first-century AD Roman Sardonyx cameo portrait of the Roman emperor Claudius, last auctioned at Christie’s in 1899, was sold for almost $116,000. The unique historical provenance added to its significance.
  5. Global Interest: The sale attracted international interest, emphasizing the rarity and historical importance of the Rothschild family collection. Members of the French branch of the Rothschild family, who descended from James Mayer de Rothschild, chose to hold the auction in New York.
  6. Rationalization and Generational Shift: Speculations suggest that the decision to sell the collection may have been driven by a “rationalization” and a “generational shift” in attitude within the family, indicating a shift in lifestyle preferences.

The auction spanned several days, featuring an evening sale followed by day sales and a concurrent live auction with some lots starting at prices as low as $100. The auction’s success highlights the enduring fascination with the Rothschild family’s historical collection.


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