More MS news articles for June 2001

Inside Art: Manager and Collector

June 22, 2001
At the same time there were all those Andy Warhol sightings at flea markets, antiques shops and rummage sales in the 1970's and 80's, Frederick W. Hughes, Warhol's business manager for 25 years, was doing his own shopping.

Even suffering from multiple sclerosis, he managed to ferret out obscure shops, wake up at dawn for the best selection at flea markets or be the first at antiques shows in London, Paris and New York. He bought important pieces of 18th-century English furniture, contemporary drawings, American Indian headdresses, skeletons of bats under glass, Mickey Mouse toys and Duke and Duchess of Windsor memorabilia.

Until his death in January, Mr. Hughes lived in a wisteria-covered town house at 1342 Lexington Avenue, near 89th Street, which he called the Hotel Anglomania because of its many portraits of English kings and queens. Every surface was covered with some kind of collectible. There were drawers full of Early American toys, Jean Dunand copper vases and Chinese dolls; walls lined with portraits of titled English noblemen; and closets full of 18th-century costumes and military uniforms.

Sotheby's is selling the contents in a single-owner sale in New York on Oct. 10 that is conservatively expected to bring more than $2 million. He had sold his best Warhol paintings over the years, but Sotheby's will offer several of his contemporary artworks in its evening sale of contemporary art in November.

Sotheby's was Mr. Hughes's auction house of choice for years. As Warhol's executor, in 1988 he masterminded a 10-day auction of Warhol's personal art and decorative objects that brought $25.3 million and attracted so many collectors and curiosity-seekers that the lines wrapped around Sotheby's York Avenue headquarters. But not all his auction forays were successful. In 1993, when Mr. Hughes tried to sell 12 Warhol paintings, only 2 found buyers.

Highlights of the October sale include a Warhol portrait of Prince Charles, estimated at $70,000 to $90,000; a portrait of Charles I attributed to Paul von Somer, which does not yet have an estimate; and a George Washington portrait in graphite on paper by Roy Lichtenstein, expected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000. Also for sale will be American and English furniture, including a George III giltwood settee.

The house itself, which Mr. Hughes rented from Warhol in 1974 and bought from the artist's estate in 1988 for $593,500, is also for sale, through Sotheby's International Realty. The asking price is $3.8 million.

Part of the proceeds from the artworks being sold are to go to two charities: the Irish Georgian Society, in New York and London, and the Menil Collection in Houston.