A US business couple have ended their 15-year marriage by agreeing to sell off $676m (£395m) of their art collection after a bitter divorce battle that saw several of their works at the centre of a legal dispute.
David Rockefeller Jr, 72, and Beth Winfrey Rockefeller, 67, who were married in 1988, have not said what they will do with the art in their will. But a source familiar with the matter told Reuters they had turned a profit after splashing out $411m on art in the 1990s.
The two sold some of their art for up to $1m a piece, including a Mark Rothko abstract, while some works were acquired by the Rockefeller Foundation, which was founded by David Rockefeller Jr.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of works which they bought for less than $100,000 have also been sold, sources said.
An art dealer who sold a work valued at $5m to the foundation in 2003 said he believed that the couple’s estate was worth around $600m. “The collection is in excellent condition and in excellent condition, and it was not in danger of being damaged in any way,” the Rockefeller Foundation spokeswoman Judith Matz said.
The Rockefeller Foundation also said it had purchased an additional $42m of art from the family since 1995. “This work is in excellent condition, so it is not in danger of being damaged in any way,” Matz said.
The Art Dealers Association of America, which represents gallery owners and museums, refused to discuss the matter. “It’s a private estate and their spokespeople are declining comment,” said the association’s president, Edward Cynamon.
News of the sale was reported earlier by ArtNet News.
Rockefeller Jr was a US national figurehead during the 20th century, married three times and once known as the family linchpin. He moved to New York from his native Great Britain as a young man. He championed global causes such as education, and visited all of the world’s 198 countries and declared a manifesto that while other Americans did what they did for self-aggrandisement, Rockefeller believed he was better for spreading the world’s wealth. His brother Nelson Rockefeller served as governor of New York state from 1959 to 1973 and as US vice-president from 1969 to 1973.
His relations with Winfrey Rockefeller deteriorated badly after the couple split, and she moved to other cities. A legal battle over one of their former homes in New York City ended up with the family agreeing to sell the home to a Russian billionaire.
David Rockefeller Jr founded a real estate development company, Terra Holdings, and also held a senior position at JPMorgan Chase in the 1980s.