B eloved by the artists and institutions they support, Sherry and Joel Mallin have, over the last three decades of their joint collecting careers, assembled a collection that is unique in breadth, vast in scope, and distinctly personal - a mirror to their curiosity, warmth and deep friendships within the art community. Though their collection spans all media, at its heart is a remarkable group of sculptures from their legendary Buckhorn Sculpture Park in Pound Ridge – a ‘Park’ that was never really intended as such but that quickly became - by popular demand – a must-see destination for visitors from far and wide.

Now, as the Mallins part with the 15-acre sculpture-filled grounds, the purpose-built 10,000 square foot ‘Art Barn’ and their magical home at Buckhorn Park, the hundreds of works that adorned its various spaces will come to auction at Sotheby’s, to be offered between October 2022 and 2024. First among the sales from their collection will be some 63 works to be sold in London this October, including an encyclopedic survey of the YBAs, of whom the Mallins were early and dedicated adopters. Among the various offerings between then and 2024 (see below for details), will be a landmark dedicated sale, in February 2023, of some 31 outdoor sculptures from Buckhorn Park. Featuring works by Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Anthony Gormley, William Kentridge, Richard Serra, Jaume Plensa and Joel Shapiro.

The vast majority of the 1,000+ treasures to be offered will be making their first ever appearance on the market, many having been acquired directly from the artists themselves, most of whom, in turn, are long-time friends of the Mallins.

Joel and Sherry first met at school when they were just 14 years old. From there they both went on to study at Cornell University, after which their lives took separate turns, with Sherry pursuing an independent life and career as an options trader and Joel making his mark as a tax lawyer at the IRS, before both moved independently into venture capital.

Joel Mallin photographed with artists John P Stern, Doug Starn, and Mike Starn at Storm King Art Center in 2016
Joel and Sherry Mallin photographed in 2015
Joel and Sherry Mallin photographed with artist Andy Goldsworthy in 2015

In parallel with this, Joel also developed a deep interest in surrealist art, assembling a celebrated collection, some 26 works from which were offered in a dedicated sale at Sotheby’s New York in May 1985. Among these were major works by Savaldor Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, René Magritte and, not least, Max Ernst, whose bronze Capricorn made a near $1m record for the artist at the time.

A number of works from this moment in Joel’s collecting career remain in the collection and will be offered at Sotheby’s over the coming months. Meanwhile, many of the Contemporary works in the collection also have a surrealist bent. Not least, those of Robert Gober, who is represented in the sale by over 20 works – together representing one of the most important collections of the artist’s work in private hands. 

Highlights from the Contemporary Day Auction

“There is no room for compromise when collecting, as should you compromise you forgo your heart’s desire…. It’s been the journey of a lifetime, learning not just about art, but about ourselves.”
Sherry and Joel Mallin

From the moment that Joel and Sherry were reunited in the 1980s, art became their life. As their relationship blossomed, art was central to their conversation: a work by Christo which hung in Joel’s home triggered conversations about the different things that might be happening within it, proving that art really is whatever you want to make of it. Together, they joined an art class where they made long-lasting friends with whom they would tour the New York galleries every week for the next 21 years.

Over the course of their collecting journey, the Mallins developed deep friendships with many leading contemporary artists who they supported and nurtured, acting both as patrons and extended family to Liza Lou, Andy Goldsworthy, and Doug and Mike Starn, among others: “We like to say we collect art, but we really collect artists. We’ve collected a whole group of art family members, who are a part of our family.” (Sherry and Joel Mallin)

In tandem with their collecting, the Mallins took on active board memberships and advisory roles at leading institutions across the United States (including, among others, the Storm King Center, the Brooklyn Museum and the Johnson Museum at Cornell University, their alma mater). Their contributions were such that, after they decided to step back from these roles, their advice was still constantly sought, and so – in response – they opened their kitchen once a week to anyone who wanted to talk, hosting breakfast ‘surgeries’ where they shared their valued insights and advice to leading members of the art world.

“We like to say we collect art, but we really collect artists. We’ve collected a whole group of art family members, who are a part of our family.”
Sherry and Joel Mallin

Though the Mallins’ interest in art of all geographies and media is unbounded, it is in the field of sculpture that their influence has been most pronounced. The park-like grounds of Buckhorn provided the ideal surroundings for the Mallins to explore their love of contemporary art in the form of large-scale sculptures, each one of which was carefully placed and framed within the rolling hills of the Westchester landscape.

While sculpture forms the core of the collection, it is complemented by works from across the whole spectrum of media by many of the leading international artists who have together defined the course of art history over the last half century: Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, Anselm Kiefer, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Irwin, Gerhard Richter, Sean Scully, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Schütte, Gavin Turk and Rachel Whiteread, to name a few.

Results from the London Auctions

The New York sales follow the tremendously successful presentation of the first portion of the Collection in the London Frieze Week sales. Led by a singular group of works by the YBAs, outdoor sculptures by the likes of Juan Munoz and Louise Bourgeois, and a remarkable infinity net by Yayoi Kusama, the works from A Life in Art comfortably exceeded their high estimate, testament to the immense quality of the works included.

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