Norman Lear’s Collection to Sell at Christie’s

Norman Lear's Collection, and Also His Wife's (Lyn Davis Lear) Will Go on Auction at Christie's, the Auction House Announced.

Apr 15, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis



Norman Lear’s collection, and also his wife’s (Lyn Davis Lear), will go on auction at Christie’s, the auction house announced. Lear, who was 101 years old, passed away in December. On May 16, the house’s 20th Century Evening Sale will include the debut of seven pieces from the selection.


David Hockney Piece, The Most Valuble at Norman Lear’s Collection

Sales Drop, Norman Lear's collection
Auctioneer Liang-lin Chen in the Christie’s Shanghai saleroom, selling Lot 112 – 16.02.64 by Zao Wou-ki, sold for CNY 12.4 million ($1,7 million) including fees. Courtesy Christie’s.


There are also more pieces up for grabs at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, to name a few. Over $50 million appears to be paid for the complete collection. Lear founded the group People for the American Way and was a steadfast supporter of the political left. Also, he acquired a copy of the Declaration of Independence in 2001. He took it a tour to engage the public with the United States Constitution, launching the voting campaign Declare Yourself.


Lear was also a passionate collector of modern art from the 20th century. This particularly includes pieces created by post-war artists, engaged with the shifting political and cultural climate in America. In the early ’70s, he befriended Robert Rauschenberg while the artist worked at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles.


Norman Lear's Collection
N.L. at the Texas Book Festival in 2014.


Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

He also acquired an early piece from the artist’s “Spread” series, Rodeo Palace (Spread), 1975–76, which is among the works that Christie’s will auction. The most valuable piece in the entire set is A Lawn Being Sprinkled, a famous Los Angeles landscape by David Hockney (valued at $25–35 million). Additionally, there are pieces by modern masters and Abstract Expressionists.


Highlighting Dedication to Social Justice

Christie’s in King Street, St James’s, via Wikimedia Commons


These artists are Willem de Kooning, Ellsworth Kelly, and Joseph Cornell. A study of Roy Lichtenstein’s I Love Liberty and a word painting by Ed Ruscha, Truth (1973), both believed to be worth between $7 million and $10 million, are both noteworthy and highlight Lear’s dedication to social justice.


“The art that Norman and Lyn collected together is, like his era-defining shows, marked as much by the exploration of ideas as by an exquisite sense of craft”, Max Carter, Christie’s vice chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, said in a press release.


Christie’s American branch at Rockefeller Center in New York. Via Wikipedia.


His wife of over three decades, Lyn Davis Lear, 76, is a filmmaker in her own right and has a PhD in Psychology. She was elected to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s board of trustees in 2011. Like her husband, she is a fierce advocate. With him and Cindy Horn, she co-founded the Environmental Media Association, which works to promote environmental causes in the entertainment industry.

Author Image

By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.