US couple's unique modern art collection set to raise $125m

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An American couple's unsurpassed collection of 20th century art is to be offered at auction this autumn and could fetch more than $125m.

The collection amassed by the prolific New York collectors Victor and Sally Ganz will number among them works by Picasso, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella.

It was estimated last night that the sale, which will take place in New York in November, could easily reach $125m.

Christie's, which will be conducting the auction, yesterday declined to give details of the paintings involved, saying a full announcement would be made at the end of May.

But the artists named above were among many the couple championed and befriended. For years they almost exclusively bought works by Picasso, including in 1956 his series derived from Delacroix's Woman of Algiers. In the 1960s they branched out to collect works by younger American artists, including Johns, Stella and Claes Oldenberg.

Victor Ganz, who ran a family costume jewellery business, was a vice president and long time trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art. He died 10 years ago. His widow, Sally, who organised a major Picasso exhibition in the early Eighties, died in January at the age of 85. She is survived by a son and three daughters. David Lister