Rothkos up for auction in heiress’s estate sale

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Rothkos up for auction in heiress’s estate sale

NEW YORK - Two Mark Rothko paintings are among objects that will be auctioned this fall from the estate of Rachel “Bunny’’ Mellon, a noted horticulturist, philanthropist and heir to the Listerine fortune, Sotheby’s announced Friday.

The works, which have been in the Mellon collection for more than 40 years, will be offered on Nov. 10. “Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange),’’ painted in 1955, could bring up to $30 million; “Untitled’’ from 1970 is estimated to sell for up to $20 million.

The auction house on Friday detailed some of the 2,000 items, including jewelry and furniture, that will be sold in a series of auctions that could realize a total of more than $100 million.

Among the jewelry is a Fancy Vivid Blue pear-shaped diamond estimated to bring $10 million to $15 million on Nov. 20. Furniture and other home interior items will be sold Nov. 21-23.

Proceeds will benefit the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, which supports the Oak Spring Garden Library in Virginia. The library houses Mellon’s collection of rare books, manuscripts and works of art related to landscape design, horticulture and natural history.

Mellon, who died in March at 103, was the widow of philanthropist Paul Mellon. The objects come from the couple’s homes in the United States and abroad. Their 2,000-acre (800-hectare) Virginia farm went on the market last month for $70 million.

Her grandfather Jordan W. Lambert created Listerine, and her father, Gerald Lambert, built a company that made everything from Dentyne to Schick razors. Paul Mellon had his own fortune, inherited from his Pittsburgh industrialist father and built on holdings in banking, coal, railroads, steel and aluminum.

Bunny Mellon was a self-taught botanist and close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In 1961, she redesigned the White House Rose Garden and later created another White House garden that was named for Kennedy after her death.

A private person, Mellon was thrust in the spotlight when former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted in 2011 for using what prosecutors alleged was campaign money, including $750,000 from Mellon, to hide his mistress during his 2008 presidential bid. He was later acquitted. Mellon was never accused of breaking any laws.


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