Ann and Gordon Getty, 1998

The Ann and Gordon Getty Collection goes to auction at Christie’s this month.

Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793)

A painting by Francesco Guardi, "The Rio Dei Mendicanti looking north with the Church of San Lazzaro Dei Mendicanti" is part of the Ann and Gordon Getty Collection

Post-its are piling up as design connoisseurs mark “must-win” bids on pages of Christie’s six catalogs detailing the sale of the century: “The Collection of Ann and Gordon Getty.” The hammer comes down October 20 to 23 during the auction in New York. Amid 1,500 lots are museum-worthy works (CanalettoMonetCassattMatisse and a famous double-sided settee once owned by the late ballet great Rudolf Nureyev) and exquisite decorative objets from the Gold Coast manse (and other properties) of the late Ann Getty and her husband, composer Gordon Getty. The collection’s value is conservatively estimated at $180 million. However, in June at Christie’s Magnificent Jewel Sale, just 12 jaw-dropping JAR (Parisian jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal) gems owned by Ann brought a whopping $5.9 million. Provenance is everything. But true to the couple’s life of devoted philanthropy, 100 percent of the collection’s sales will benefit the new Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts. This endeavor was established following the 2020 death of Ann — a scholarly collector, interior designer and archaeology student — to honor her legacy of supporting the arts and sciences. Among local EssEff beneficiaries (including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, SF Opera and SF Symphony) is the University of San Francisco, where Gordon remains a devoted alum. Since his 1956 graduation, he has gifted USF more than $30 million, including the creation of the J. Paul Getty Honors College for liberal arts. With proceeds from the Christie’s sale, distributed via the new foundation, Gordon’s super support of his alma mater tops out at about $300 million. And USF will increase its artistic footprint, renovating facilities and creating new studios and gallery spaces. In 2023, USF launches its endowed Ann Getty Chair in the Arts and the Ann Getty Scholarship for the Arts to support the Ann Getty Scholars. “Within our Jesuit tradition, we’ll explore how the arts shine a light on humanity while exposing the dehumanizing aspects of society. We are then inspired to improve as individuals and communities,” says University President Fr. Paul Fitzgerald. “That’s the Gettys’ genius: They understand art liberates all people.”

Queen Maxima Netherlands

Queen Máxima (left) with Vivianne Heijnen, Eleni Kounalakis, Yana Garcia and Jennifer Siebel Newsom at Salesforce Park.

Doin’ it for everyone: Forget “Ladies Who Lunch.” On a whirlwind Bay Area trip, Queen Máxima of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a female power posse (including Netherlands Minister for the Environment Vivianne Heijnen and CalEPA Secretary Yana Garcia) joined together to save the planet on September 6 under a sweltering sky at Salesforce Park. Led by Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, also our state ambassador for trade development and international affairs, and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the group onstage comprised five women working to make our world a healthier place as they signed a memorandum strengthening climate initiatives between California and the Netherlands. The Bay Area boasts a mighty contingent of Dutch expats, businesses and jobs. And the queen maintained a punishing 48-hour schedule meeting politicians, civic leaders and tech titans at some of our crown-jewel institutions (including UCSF, Google and Stanford University). She also made a heartfelt swing by the Castro, where local queens turned out in force to cheer the Netherlands — the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Later that night at City Hall, Netherlands Consul General Dirk Janssen hosted a reception fit for a queen: 750 guests and dignitaries (Mayor London Breed, Honorary Consul to Monaco Thomas Horn) turned out for remarks, toasts and buffet tables groaning with delicacies whipped up by McCalls President Lucas Schoemaker, a proud Dutchman. But if smoked fish doesn’t tickle your palate, McCalls’ famous baby lamb chops hit the spot. “Women have long been behind the scenes doing the hard work of crafting policy,” noted Kounalakis with a diplomatic smile. “But now we’re seeing women out front, like this morning, making change. It’s very gratifying.”

Catherine is the Chief Social & Cultural Correspondent

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