ArtListings > News > Archive > Sotheby's to sell the first-ever work to come to auction by the greatest artist who never lived: Nat Tate

Sotheby's to sell the first-ever work to come to auction by the greatest artist who never lived: Nat Tate

18 October '11 by the editors | Source:

Sotheby's, announces the sale of the first work by abstract expressionist post-war artist Nat Tate ever to appear at auction as part of the forthcoming Modern & Post-War British Art Sale, on Wednesday 16th November 2011.

The drawing, estimated at £3,000-5,000*, is one of only 18 works by the artist remaining in existence. The drawing will be publicly exhibited for the first time prior to the auction, and proceeds from the sale will benefit the Artist’s Benevolent Institution.

Memorably, in 1998 it was revealed that the art of a good hoax might very well be the hoax of good art, and that Nat Tate was in fact a fictitious figure created by bestselling British author William Boyd in his biography Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960. Grounded in vintage photographs of the unknown (picked up at various junk shops and car boot sales), fake New York galleries with real addresses and a group of well-executed drawings and paintings, the great literary ruse of Nat Tate had tricked even the most sophisticated in the art world. Today, however, the artist continues to have a meta-life more real than some of his contemporaries and still the lines of fact and fiction continue to be blurred.

William Boyd comments on the sale, 'I am delighted that Nat Tate’s fame and popularity as an artist continue to fascinate and entertain, and that his artworks have been met with sufficient appreciation by the discerning art world to now appear at auction to raise funds for an extremely worthy cause.'

The Art of a Great Hoax
In 1998 David Bowie hosted a party at Jeff Koons’s Manhattan studio to promote his new art publishing house (21 Publishing) and its first publication, the biography Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960 by William Boyd. The guest list ran like the who’s who of the New York art world, with highprofile revellers ranging from the iconic supermodel Imam, to Gore Vidal, and the most important media critics of the time. The party was a rather decadent affair, one that was meant to be a celebration by New York art aficionados of the mysterious man 'behind the bridges', some of whom had reportedly visited the galleries that had held Nat Tate’s exhibitions and others even recalled crossing paths with this somewhat mysterious artist.

According to the biography, the illustrious artist Nathwell Tate (1928-1960) -lover of Peggy Guggenheim and protégée of the New York School, who stepped onto the Manhattan scene alongside such contemporaries as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, William de Kooning, Picasso and Braque - had destroyed ninety-nine per cent of his entire output of Abstract Expressionist art the weekend before the tragic death. Tate had gathered together his works from his various patrons by persuading them to part with them temporarily under the ruse that he had been inspired to re-work them following an inspirational meeting with Picasso and a visit to the studio of Georges Braque.

Read entire article...

More news

Business has held up despite the initial nervousness of exhibitors.
16 October '11

Lucian Freud and Alberto Burri paintings sold for $5 million each in London last night at a Sotheby’s auction overshadowed by concern about market weakness and a protest by U.S. art handlers over a labor dispute.
14 October '11

TEFAF Maastricht will celebrate its Silver Jubilee when it opens at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) in the southern Netherlands from 16 – 25 March 2012.
15 October '11

£150,000 fund enables gallery director Nicholas Serota to acquire three contemporary works at open-air art market.
14 October '11

A Gerhard Richter painting sold for a record $16.6 million last night as Christie’s International boosted confidence in the top end of the contemporary-art market and reassured dealers at the end of a nervous “Frieze Week.”
15 October '11

Having won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for biography for “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,” Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith will be back in bookstores on Tuesday with “Van Gogh: The Life.”
15 October '11

Now in its 16th year, American International Fine Art Fair (AIFAF) is one of the premier art, antique and jewelry fair in the United States.
15 October '11

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose 81-day detention earlier this year caused an international outcry, has been named the art world's most powerful figure in a new ranking.
14 October '11

Modern and contemporary art fairs are encouraging crossover collecting with a renewed focus on older art.
12 October '11

Once again, Frieze Art Fair opens its tent amid global economic uncertainty. The contemporary art fair faces the now familiar pressure of being the market’s first test of health following a summer of discontent.
12 October '11

On the heels of one art thief’s claims that he discarded the paintings he stole from a Paris museum comes another report of two Picasso works recovered in Serbia after a Swiss robbery.
12 October '11

A survey conducted by LAPADA has revealed just how much the art and antiques trade relies on the cheque.
11 October '11

From 11 October to 13 November 2011, a religious masterpiece will be on view in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam: The Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645). For five weeks this painting can be admired in an ideal setting, displayed alone in the sanctuary, once the place of the high altar.
11 October '11

A man suspected of hiding precious artwork stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art last year claims that in a panic, he threw the paintings into the garbage.
10 October '11

The Masters fair in London will sell historic work as well as contemporary art as the duo detects a 'new taste for the old'.
09 October '11

Before his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 40, John Lennon made his mark on the world through his music, wooing throngs of adoring teenage girls as a Beatle and later as a solo artist, with songs like "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance."
09 October '11

Opera Gallery presents the UK premier of new works by Mr Brainwash in an exhibition curated by Jean-David MALAT, Director of Opera Gallery London.
05 October '11

Mr Brainwash was the subject of Banksy's street art documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, but he's gone on to much more since that starting point.
09 October '11

Follow ArtListings
New on ArtListings
Latest art news