The collection of the highly regarded sculptor and philanthropist Lolo Sarnoff will be presented over several several sales in New York and London throughout the spring. The selection of work on offer spans important Impressionist & Modern Art, follows Sotheby’s legendary six-day, 700 lot auction in 1978 of the collection of Lolo Sarnoff’s step-father, Robert von Hirsch. Works by artists such as Picasso,Chagall and Renoir are expected to sell for above the estimates.
Warren Weitman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Americas, commented: “It is a great privilege for Sotheby’s to present works from this extraordinary collection. Lolo Sarnoff had an exceptional eye and keen intelligence, qualities that are evident throughout the collection. The refinement and sophistication of her step-father, celebrated art collector Robert von Hirsch, can be seen in the salon-style display of paintings and works on paper throughout her home. Nearly every important movement of Impressionist and Modern art is represented, in addition to a remarkable assemblage of German, Dutch, and French Faience animals, birds and trompe l’oeil wares, the core of which was acquired by her maternal grandfather Louis Koch. The collection also includes fine Chinese jades and snuff bottles believed to have been collected by her father, Willy Dreyfus. We look forward to introducing a new generation of collectors to the taste and connoisseurship of this extraordinary family.”
Lolo Sarnoff and her family had a remarkable and distinguished heritage of collecting. Her maternal grandfather, Louis Koch (1862 – 1930) co-founded the House of Koch and was appointed jeweler to the Court of Frankfurt in 1883. Louis Koch’s daughter, Martha (1892 – 1965) married banker and art collector Willy Dreyfus (1885 – 1977). Their daughter Lolo was born in 1916 in Frankfurt where she spent the first two decades of her life. In 1936, Martha moved to Switzerland and later remarried Robert von Hirsch, a friend from her youth in Frankfurt.
Upon his death in 1977, von Hirsch left an extraordinary collection of Impressionist & Modern Art, Old Master Paintings, Medieval and Renaissance Works of Art, Furniture and Porcelain. Lolo, together with her brother, Richard Dreyfus, fulfilled their father’s wish to circulate his art on the market by consigning the collection for auction at Sotheby’s London in June of 1978. The “white-glove” sale series (100% sold-by-lot) consisted of 700 lots and lasted six days. A record total of $32 million was achieved including 53 world auction records. Lolo acquired works from this historic sale and received many others by bequest from the von Hirsch estate, the majority of which remained in her home in Maryland until her passing last year.
An accomplished sculptress in her own right, Lolo exhibited internationally since 1969, and a number of her pieces appear in private and public collections around the world. Lolo was not only an artist and collector, but also a dedicated philanthropist. Arts for the Aging (AFTA), an organization to help people with dementia lead fuller lives through art, was the natural evolution of her passions for art, science and philanthropy.
Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on 5 May will feature works from the Sarnoff Collection including two sculptures by Pablo Picasso. Le Chat is among the most idiosyncratic and arresting sculptures executed by the artist during the final years of World War II – the life-sized sculpture is fiercely animated and poised to leap (est. $2/3 million). Le Hibou noir appeared in the von Hirsch sale and was acquired by Lolo Sarnoff in 1978. Additional property from the von Hirsch Collection on offer in May will include works by Paul Cezanne and Pierre-August Renoir.