T he New York Sales at Sotheby’s in May will present masterworks spanning more than a century. Both the Modern Evening Auction and Contemporary Evening Auction feature works from The Collection of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, the proceeds of which will benefit charities supporting the arts, music and medical research.
Led by Pablo Picasso’s monumental Femme nue couchée jouant avec un chat, Lucio Fontana’s iconic Concetto Spaziale, Attese, and Oscar Dominguez’s surrealist Le plus clair du temps II, and featuring an impressive group of outdoor sculptures by Richard Long, Marc Quinn, Tony Smith and others, the auctions also include a spectacular monumental drawing by Bruce Nauman. The Collection demonstrates the Shrems’ unique vision and innovative legacy.
First Look: The Collection of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem
Maria Manetti Shrem was instrumental to introducing and establishing iconic European fashion brands in the United States, most notably Gucci, in the 1970s. Her husband Jan, who spent his early years between Colombia, Jerusalem and the United States, began his career distributing encyclopedias in Japan before building an international book publishing and distributing empire.
“Now the most important role of my life is to motivate young people, to support both the talented and the ones most in need, to dedicate myself completely to philanthropy… I firmly believe that the art of living is the art of giving.”
Jan also parlayed an interest in wine into the Clos Pegase Winery, which The Washington Post has called a “monument to wine as art”; inspired by Jan’s art collection, the vineyard’s bottle labels have featured artworks by Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró, Francis Bacon and Odilon Redon, among others. The vineyard’s current and best-known label features an image of Redon’s Pégase, to be offered from the Collection. Together, Maria and Jan share a passionate belief in art’s ability to inspire and educate.
Maria’s love of the arts was born one evening in her native Florence when, just 15-years-old, she happened across an outdoor performance of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. From that moment on, she has been passionately engaged, both with music and with art in all its various forms. But that deep engagement has always been married with an understanding that arts and culture can only survive and flourish if nurtured and taught – a realisation that underpins a lifetime of tireless philanthropic generosity.
Having built an expansive charitable network, today the Shrems support more than 30 charitable programmes around the world. The Shrems support visual art and music education, public recreational parks and environmental conservationism, medical-scientific research initiatives, and Italian heritage.
Recognising Maria’s philanthropic legacy, His Majesty King Charles III affectionately referred to her as “my heroine and my ultimate Italian”.
Jan and Maria have in recent times lent their support to more than 40 charitable programs around the world. In addition to leading centers of medical research (UCSF, CPMC, Meyer Pediatrics Hospital), beneficiaries include New York’s Metropolitan Opera; UC Davis
; the San Francisco Opera; the Royal Drawing School in London; SFMoMA, Festival Napa Valley, KQED as well as numerous initiatives and causes in Florence, including Il Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Meyer Pediatrics Hospital, Andrea Bocelli Foundation and, not least, Palazzo Strozzi Foundation.
In 2016, the Shrems – with their dear friend Margrit Mondavi – co-founded the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at the University of California, Davis. The building has been described as one of the 25 best museum buildings of the past 100 years by ARTnews. Alongside galleries filled with world-class art, one third of the museum’s space is dedicated to education — a true testament to the Shrems’ determination to make art readily available to all.
For her support, Maria recently received the 2023 UC Davis Medal, the university’s highest honour, putting her in company with 2020 Nobel Laureate Charles Rice, artist Wayne Thiebaud, and former President Bill Clinton. Central to the Shrems’ philanthropic philosophy is the principle of giving during one’s lifetime and thereby inspiring others to do the same. As forward-thinking in their artistic endeavours as in their commitment to the next generation, the Shrems’ legacy continues through their support and nurturing of nascent talent.
Maria Manetti Shrem says: “For me, the art of living is the art of giving.”
Auction & Exhibition Information
Property from the Collection of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem will be offered across the Modern Evening Auction, Modern Day Auction, Contemporary Evening Auction and Contemporary Day Auction this May in New York. Prior to the full exhibition in New York, highlights from the collection will be on view at the locations and dates below:
Hong Kong | 1–5 April
Hours: 10am–6pm HKT
Address: 1 Expo Dr, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
Regional Contact: Shirley.Li@sothebys.com
London | 12–16 April
Hours: Weekdays 9am–5pm, Weekends 12pm–5pm BST
Address: 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA, UK
Regional Contact: Julie.Noble@sothebys.com
Los Angeles | 20–24 April
Hours: Weekdays 10am–5pm, Saturday 12pm–5pm PDT
Address: 350 N Camden Dr Beverly Hills, California 90210
Regional Contact: Constanze.Nogler@sothebys.com