In 1968, David Rockefeller was part of an unusual syndicate formed by a small band of deep-pocketed collectors with close connections to the Museum of Modern Art that engineered a $6.8 million all-in arrangement with the heirs of Gertrude Stein to buy a group of artworks she had owned.
The banker, philanthropist, and statesman was the perfect candidate for the syndicate, especially since his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, was one of the founders of the museum. In addition to David, his brother Nelson R. Rockefeller was also in the elite group, along with CBS head William S. Paley, publisher John Hay Whitney, and Andre Meyer. David picked up a second chit since William A. Burden, one of the original syndicate members, dropped out.
The members met on a Sunday in December 1968 in an old Whitney wing of the museum and drew straws from a crumpled felt hat for their choices, according to a published account by David Rockefeller. David was lucky, drawing the longest straw, and chose Picasso’s stunning Rose Period flower seller from 1905 for what was then something less than 1 million dollars.
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Art Highlights is a blog about what's going on with me, my photography, and the art world in general.