Sale of the Brody Estate & Art

While the previous home of Sidney and Frances Brody, designed by A. Quincy Jones, is a masterpiece in and of itself, its walls were adorned with momentous works of art that surpassed the estate's value tenfold. Two of the most important pieces in the Brody's collection were Matisse's La Gerbe (1953) and Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932), which sold for a record setting $106.5 million at Christie's on May 4, 2010.

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932, oil on canvas, 64" x 51", private collection. via Christie's

Pablo Picasso with Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in 1932 at his residence at 23 rue la Boétie, Paris.
Photo: Cecil Beaton via NPG, London

On Tuesday, March 8, 1932 Picasso began to paint and by the end of the day he had completed what would become known as Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, one of the many pieces that featured his long time mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. The piece was acquired by the Brodys in 1951 from Picasso's dealer Paul Rosenberg and has since been publicly exhibited only once. After the death of Frances Brody in 2009, the painting was put up for auction at Christie's. By the time the hammer struck on May 4, 2010, the total cost of the painting was a staggering $106.5 million, breaking the world record for any work of art sold at auction. To see a video of the bidding war click here.  For more back story on the piece click here.

Henri Matisse, La Gerbe (The Sheaf), 1953, ceramic and plaster. LACMA

Sidney and Frances Brody pictured in their home with Matisse's La Gerbe in 1966. Via Life photo archive

Party at the Brody's with La Gerbe in the background, 1959. Via Life photo archive

Matisse in his studio creating paper cut-outs in 1952 (circa the making of La Gerbe). Image via

Matisse master with the scissors. Image source unknown.

La Gerbe before removal from the Brody residence. Image via Brody archives / LACMA

Removal of the 2,000 pound piece in January 2010. Image via LACMA

La Gerbe at its new home in the Ahmanson Building, LACMA. Image via LACMA

La Gerbe (The Sheaf) was created for the Brodys by Henri Matisse after they approached the artist in 1952 with the idea of designing a piece for an atrium wall in the center of their newly built home. The Brodys rejected Matisse's first design titled Apollo (the ceramic version of this piece is now in the Toledo Museum of Art) in May of 1953. Matisse subsequently produced La Gerbe which was accepted by the couple.

It was the Brodys original intention to have the piece produced in California, but they were unable to locate a fitting ceramic studio, therefore Matisse agreed to oversee its production in France. La Gerbe was completed in November of 1954; measuring approximately 8' x 12' and consisting of 16 individual ceramic panels that fit together like a puzzle on a steel frame. The piece was installed in the Brody home in August of 1955 and remained there until it was relocated to LACMA in January of 2010. For LACMA's account of its relocation click here. LACMA also has a recording of Frances Brody's firsthand account of the piece from its inception to completion, this can be heard by dialing 888.788.7457.

The Brody estate sold in December 2010. The photos below are from the realtor's original MLS listing.
NOTE: The above photo shows the atrium wall were Matisse's La Gerbe once hung.
NOTE: Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust as it appeared in the Brody's home.

Sidney and Frances Brody commissioned noted mid-century architect A. Quincy Jones to design their Los Angeles home in 1949. The two story 11,511 sq ft home was completed in February of 1951 and featured 9 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, a library, large outdoor atrium, swimming pool and tennis court. And one other "amenity" worth mentioning is that the property sits next to the Playboy Mansion. Originally listed at $24.95 million, the estate sold in December 2010 for $14.88 million, about 13% of the cost of the Picasso it housed!


Anonymous said...

Fabulous photos. Fascinating subject. Beautiful beginning to end. Exellent post. Wonderful site. Thank you so much for sharing this. Betty

Mid-Centuria said...

Thanks Betty!!!