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Peggy & David Rockefeller

PEGGY & DAVID ROCKEFELLER (1915- 1996 ; 1915 - 2017)


The grandiose collection of American businessman David Rockefeller and his wife Peggy McGrath has been built up over the years and reflects the family's deep passion for art in all its diversity. The couple, with very good taste, have assembled a reference collection. Indeed, it brings together impressionist and modern works of art as well as European furniture, American paintings or Chinese ceramics among many other objects.

MyStudiolo traces the life of this New York billionaire couple, passionate collectors and great philanthropists in:

6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote

1940 David and Peggy get married. Faithful to the family tradition, they knew how to enrich with intelligence the extraordinary collection of artworks started by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, David's mother. In the 1920s, Abby against her husband's advice, she decided to take an interest in modern art and support emerging artists. She was also the co-founder of MoMA.

1948 Under the leadership of Alfred Barr, then director of MoMA, the couple began to collect mainly French impressionist and modern art. This omnipresence of French painting reflects the special link of the Rockefeller family with France. In particular, after the war, they made a very significant contribution to the financing of major restoration work on the châteaux of Versailles, Fontainebleau and even the cathedral of Reims.

1968 They acquired Girl with a Flowered Basket, painted in 1905 by Pablo Picasso. The work was part of the estate of Alice Toklas, companion of the mythical collector of Picasso, Gertrude Stein. A flagship piece of the collection, this work from the pink period never left the collection of the Rockefeller family and was enthroned in the library.

2005 The couple donate $ 100 million to MoMA as well as numerous paintings by masters, including Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne. Subsequently, they gave the institution $ 200 million. It is one of the largest sums ever bequeathed to a museum. Helping to make the world a better place, the couple often made donations for causes that were dear to them.

2007 David sold a 1950 Mark Rothko canvas for $ 72.8 million at Sotheby's, an all-time high at the time. He had bought it in 1960 for about $ 10,000. Proof that he had a keen eye for beautiful things. He was obviously well advised but it was always he who made the final decision with Peggy.

2018 As a nod to history, the 1,600 works of art in the couple's collection are sold at Rockefeller Center, with Christie's auction house located there. The sale, including works by Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Hopper and Willem de Kooning, among others, brought in $ 832.5 million, smashing the record held so far by the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection, which had brought in 484 million dollars in 2009. In accordance with the philanthropic will of the couple, all profits were donated to charities and cultural institutions.


Henri Matisse, Lying odalisque with magnolias, 1923 - The painting was sold for 80.7 million, a record.

Pablo Picasso, Girl with a flowered basket, 1905 - Auctioned for 115 million dollars, the painting rose to second place in the highest auctions obtained by works of the master.

Claude Monet, Water lilies in bloom, 1914 - The work was sold for 84.6 million dollars, the highest amount for the French impressionist master.

Diego Rivera, The Rivals, 1931 - The work sold for $ 9.7 million, a record for Latin American art.



  • In 1968, six members of the MoMA gathered to buy works and subsequently raffled them off. David Rockefeller had obviously had a good number since he left with Picasso's painting Girl with a flowered basket valued at $ 1 million at the time. Gertrude Stein, the first owner of the work, had acquired it for the ridiculous sum of 30 dollars ...

  • During their lifetime, David and Peggy Rockefeller donated $ 1 billion. True philanthropists, they have devoted most of their heritage to supporting cultural, educational, medical and environmental causes.

  • Gilbert Stuart's famous Portrait of George Washington which sat in the Rockefellers' dining room and which inspired the American banknote soared to $ 11.5 million at the auction of their collection.


“At the end of the day, all of those items that Peggy and I loved so much will be accessible again, available to other keepers who will hopefully derive the same satisfaction and joy from them as we do. Getting older, we realize that we do not really own things. We are simply the custodian "

David Rockefeller

Discover the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller sold by Christie's

Discover the exhibition Masterpieces from the David & Peggy Rockefeller Collection at MoMA

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