The late singer David Bowie
The late singer David Bowie

David Bowie's art collection could fetch $17 million

DAVID Bowie's art collection is to be auctioned off.

The 'Jean Genie' singer - who died of cancer in January - had a private collection of almost 300 pieces by the likes of Damien Hirst, Stanley Spencer, Patrick Caulfield and Marcel Duchamp, and the paintings are expected to collectively fetch over £10 million (equivalent to more than $17 million Australian dollars) when they are sold by Sotheby's in November.

Prior to the sale, the London-based auctioneers will have the works on display to the public.

Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby's Europe, said: "David Bowie's collection offers a unique insight into the personal world of one of the 20th Century's greatest creative spirits."

A graffiti-style painting called Air Power by Jean-Michel Basquiat - which Bowie bought in 1997, a year after he played the artist's mentor Andy Warhol in 'Basquiat' - is expected to attract the highest bid, with an estimated value of £2.5m - £3.5m.

As well as 267 paintings, more than 120 items of 20th Century furniture and sculpture belonging to the 'Drive-In Saturday' singer will be auctioned.

Proceeds from the sale will go to Bowie's family, who are said to be selling due to a lack of space.

Bowie previously admitted to buying art "obsessively and addictively", but his life as a collector was kept largely from public view.

However, it is believed he didn't purchase because of artist reputation or as investments, but because of his own reaction to each piece.

In 1994, Bowie joined the editorial board of arts magazine Modern Painters and novelist William Boyd said the singer was more than just a "celebrity" but he "genuinely had something to contribute".

He added to the BBC: "He did go to art school. He wanted to talk very seriously about artists, painters, themes and movements. So it was not a hobby or a whim, it was a very serious passionate interest.

"He could be himself, David Jones rather than David Bowie. He found a forum and a world that he could move about in that had nothing to do with his fame. I think for a lot of famous people, if you can find that world, it's actually tremendously gratifying and fulfilling."

Bowie went on to launch an art book publishing company called 21 and infamously pulled off an elaborate hoax with Boyd.

The singer hosted a Manhattan launch party for a book celebrating the life and work of American artist Nat Tate - an imaginary figure created by the writer.

Boyd said of the ruse: "Without his participation it would never have been as big a hoax as it turned out to be.

"Everybody loves a hoax and I think to fool a bunch of self-important intellectuals is no bad thing from time to time."