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David Bowie exclusive, photography Steve Schapiro
David with goggles. Los Angeles 1974Photographs by Steve Schapiro, from Bowie, published by powerHouse Books

David Bowie’s private art collection revealed for first time

Over 400 pieces from the icon’s private collection will tour the world before being put up for auction

David Bowie’s private art collection will be shown for the first time in a new exhibition, and then auctioned off for an expected £10 million. 

The collection features work by Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Henry Moore, as well as 100 pieces of furniture. Once the exhibit has toured the world – London, LA, New York and Hong Kong through July until October – for fans to witness, Sotheby’s auction house will host a three-part sale of 400 pieces, including art works, sculpture and design from modern to contemporary art.

The Blackstar singer, who died of cancer in January aged 69, spoke frequently about his passion for art. In an interview with the New York Times in 1998, he said: “Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it.”

The Thin White Duke joined the editorial board of the journal Modern Painters in 1998, and was a painter himself. It was said he always had a huge hand in the visuals that surrounded his work, like his costumes and album covers.

Showing a more playful side when it came to the art world, Bowie was involved in the art hoax that surrounded ‘Nat Tate’. Together with writer William Boyd, they presented a biography and book launch party in New York for the completely fictional artist Nat Tate.

One of the most sought after pieces in his collection is Air Power, a graffiti painting by Jean-Michael Basquiat. Basquiat, a contemporary of Warhol famous for his neo-expressionist works, died aged 27 of a heroin overdose in 1988. The Air Power piece alone is expected to sell of £3.5 million.

A spokesperson for the Estate of David Bowie told the Telegraph that his family was “keeping certain pieces of particular personal significance,” but that it was "now time to give others the opportunity to appreciate – and acquire – the art and objects he so admired.” 

“David’s art collection was fuelled by personal interest and compiled out of passion. He always sought and encouraged loans from the collection and enjoyed sharing the works in his custody.” 

Bowie’s collection will first hit London 20 July-9 August at Sotheby’s before going on the road.