Every spring Manhattan buzzes with art and antiques fever, thanks to a spate of high-profile auctions and fairs tempting collectors with the best works on the market. This year didn’t disappoint, highlighted by record-smashing auction results, ranging from the $119.9 million paid for the last privately held version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream at Sotheby’s to the nearly $36.5 million that Yves Klein’s FC1 (Fire Color 1) brought at Christie’s. And buyers came in droves by bus and ferry to Randall’s Island for a splashy new edition of the Freize contemporary art fair, featuring 170 international galleries, while the Art and Antique Dealers League of America’s Spring Show at the Park Avenue Armory satiated buyers with somewhat more traditional tastes.
With so many extraordinary artworks on offer, we asked collectors and other art-world figures which covetables were on their personal wish lists. We first spoke to them at the AADLA’s Spring Show gala preview, benefiting the ASPCA, and at a screening of the Yves Klein documentary La Revolution Bleue, hosted by Christie’s, La Mer skin care, and the nonprofit Oceana at the Paris Theatre in midtown. Then, for good measure, we also posed the questions to attendees of the Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Awards at Alice Tully Hall and of the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Party in the Garden benefit.
Over cocktails at the AADLA’s Spring Show, Wilbur Ross, founder of the equity firm WL Ross & Co., spoke about expanding the collection of Surrealist art he has assembled with his wife, Hilary Geary Ross. “We collect Magritte paintings and already have several Les Lalanne sculptures, but we’d like more of both,” he said.
Meanwhile, Robert Couturier, the gregarious French interior designer and architect, suggested that AD visit the booth of the New York dealers Dalva Brothers. “They have a 17th-century sleigh built for the Dauphin of France,” he said, referring to a Baroque piece designed by Jean Berain. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful object that I would love to have for Christmas. And it’s only $2.5 million.”
Elsewhere at the Armory, overscale Art Deco bronzes depicting the four seasons caught the eye of two other esteemed interior designers: Hermes Mallea and Geoffrey Bradfield. “They would be amazing for the entrance to the dining room for a project I am doing in Jakarta,” Bradfield said of the pieces, which were being offered by Martin du Louvre. “I could build the room around them.” Conspiratorially, he added that Phillips de Pury auction house had “some amazing things” in its latest sale, including “an extraordinary Andy Warhol Statue of Liberty silkscreen that I love. It’s out of my league but gorgeous. You rarely see that particular image.”
On her way into the Paris Theatre for the Yves Klein documentary, Lydia Fenet, Christie’s charismatic international director of strategic partnerships, described the excitement over the Klein sale. “He is huge for us and has a large European base of collectors,” she said. But her personal wish list? “The incredible Rothko, Orange, Red, and Yellow, in Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale. I would die to have a Rothko.”
Philanthropist David Rockefeller Jr., meanwhile, is in the market for photographs. “We have a couple of blank spaces at our maisonette in New York that are calling out, and they have been for a few years,” he said. “But we’ll know what to put there when we see it.” He paused. “We are not big auction buyers—we love to go to galleries. And to me, the question with a photograph is always, ‘Does it have the lasting power that a painting does?’”
“I wish I did collect art,” actress January Jones told AD. “First of all, I’m not that wealthy or cool. Everything I’ve gone to see that I love has been hugely out of my price range. So I must have good taste—or at least expensive taste.”
Entering the FiFi awards, where his late wife, Evelyn, was being honored, Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies, wouldn’t specify any pieces he’d like to add to his esteemed collections, but he’s certainly looking. “You can’t be too rich, too thin, or have everything you want,” explained the enviable connoisseur. “If you had everything you wanted, what would there be to live for?”
Domestic diva Martha Stewart, also at the awards, opted for the classics. “I’d like more sculptures in my garden, but I’m tending toward antiquities—Greek and Roman,” she revealed.
At MoMA’s Party in the Garden, artist Ellsworth Kelly—whose exhibition “Plant Drawings” is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this summer—offered a heady shortlist: “I’d like to have a good Picasso, a Matisse, a Léger, and a Brancusi.”
“Anything in the world?” asked artist Chuck Close. He took barely a moment to select his fantasy acquisition: “Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.”
Painter George Condo was also thinking big—and across eras. “I wouldn’t mind having a van Gogh,” he said, adding, somewhat more practically, “or a Maurizio Cattelan.”
“I’d like a George Condo,” said model Hilary Rhoda, standing in the sculpture garden an arm’s length from the artist. “There is always something a little off—a tiny head on a big body. I love that.”
“John Currin is a close friend of ours,” said Yvonne Force Villareal, cofounder of the nonprofit Art Production Fund. “We have a lot of drawings by him, but we do want one of his paintings.” She looked around, pretending to spy him. “John, we want a painting!”
Fashion designer Arianna Rockefeller Bucklin said she would "love to own a self-portrait by Cindy Sherman,” whose retrospective is on view at MoMA through June 11.
And what about you, Barbara Walters? “Well, at dinner tonight, I’m sitting next to Richard Serra,” answered the TV journalist and host of The View, before laughing and speeding off to her table.