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Special Issue: Auction Analysis

A Sigh for Cy

Bridget Riley, Breathe (1966). Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo credit: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam

BY Beth Rudin DeWoody
American art patron, collector, curator and philanthropist

Published
In Passions

I have so many works that got away. One that stands out was a Bridget Riley drawing from the 1960s called Study for Breathe (1966). When it was offered to me—we’re talking early 1990s here—it seemed too expensive, so I went away to give it some thought.

By the time I went back to the dealer, the people who owned the work had decided not to sell. I was heartbroken. It was an early black and white drawing that Riley made as a study for the painting of the same name. It was incredible—perfect. It was the Bridget Riley you would want.

Another memory I have is of this incredible Cy Twombly work that I saw in London at Anthony d’Offay’s gallery in the 1980s, hanging above the desk. It was a biggish chalk work and it was the first time I had really seen much of Twombly’s work—I was just beginning to learn about him. I didn’t know much, but I knew that this was gorgeous.

At the time the painting cost around $100,000, which, in those days, felt like a million dollars. Oh my God—if we had had that kind of money, I would have bought it.

I was this close to getting Study for Breathe, whereas I could never have actually owned the Twombly. But, both were works I wish I could have bought, because I knew I would have loved them forever.

 

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