jerome-ellen-art-barn-hero.jpg
Contemporary Art

Inside Jerome & Ellen Stern’s Art Barn

Sometime in the late 1990s, shortly after acquiring Empty Dream, a monumental photo work by Japanese artist Mariko Mori, Jerome Stern realised that he had run out of space. The homes he shared with his wife, Ellen – a residence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and a house in Westhampton, New York – were filled to the brim with art and objects. A quintessential New Yorker with a career in venture capitalism and finance, Stern had begun collecting in the mid-1960s and never stopped. He bought widely, without regard for period, category or geography, and acquired such diverse works as paintings by Pablo Picasso and Marlene Dumas, sculptures by Aristide Maillol and David Smith, and lighting by Tiffany.

an-artful-life-editorial2.jpg

MARK DION’S BABEL, 2002. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIAN CASSADY.

The scope of Stern’s collecting was truly extraordinary – as dealer Jeffrey Deitch recalled, he was “one of the rare connoisseur-collectors who could identify aesthetic quality from ancient art to the studios of young artists” – and it became clear that exceptional measures were in order. And so was born the Art Barn, a 7,500-square-foot private gallery Jerome and Ellen Stern commissioned from sculptor Serge Spitzer, a friend whose work they collected. In this industrial-style facility on their verdant Westhampton estate, the Sterns displayed their holdings in contemporary sculpture and photography, bringing together two mediums that are rarely shown in tandem. With this brilliant move, the collectors allowed works by celebrated artists such as Joseph Beuys, Yayoi Kusama, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Yinka Shonibare to enter into endless conversations with pieces by emerging artists such as Ahmed Mater, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Asta Gröting, thus making the Art Barn the embodiment of their fearlessness and passion in collecting.

After Jerome Stern’s passing earlier this  year, his family decided to part with more than  250 works, which Sotheby’s New York is bringing to the market in nine separate auctions, under the title To Live with Art: Property from the Jerome & Ellen Stern Collection. From the first offerings of Impressionist & Modern Art on 14 November to a dedicated single-owner sale next March, each auction will celebrate the couple’s boundless appetite for art and ensure that it lives on.

jerome-ellen-stern-art-barn.jpg

YINKA SHONIBARE’S LEISURE LADY (WITH PUGS), 2001. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIAN CASSADY.

"Stern was one of the rare collectors who could identify aesthetic quality from ancient art to the studios of young artists."
—Jeffrey Deitch
an-artful-life-editorial4.jpg

JEROME AND ELLEN STERN’S CUSTOM-BUILT ART BARN. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIAN CASSADY.  

Sale Schedule of To Live With Art: The Jerome & Ellen Stern Collection:

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening | 14 November

Impressionist & Modern Art Day | 15 November

Contemporary Art Evening | 16 November

Contemporary Art Day | 17 November

LEAD IMAGE: MARIKO MORI’S EMPTY DREAM, 1995, IN THE STERNS’ ART BARN, LOCATED ON THE GROUNDS OF THEIR PROPERTY IN WESTHAMPTON, NEW YORK. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIAN CASSADY. FEATURED ART IS AMONG THE STERN COLLECTION WORKS TO BE OFFERED IN MULTIPLE SALES AT SOTHEBY'S.

Christine Schwartz Hartley is a contributing editor of Sotheby’s magazine.

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.

Close