Wayne Thiebaud's Blueberry Custard, from the personal collection of music entrepreneur and art collector Russ Solomon, is among the top highlights in Heritage Auctions
' Modern & Contemporary Art Auction Nov. 20 in Beverly Hills, California.
Wayne Thiebaud's Blueberry Custard (estimate: $2,000,000-2,500,000) was painted in 1961, the year the artist met New York dealer Allan Stone, who represented Thiebaud until Stone died in 2006. Included in his first solo show with Stone in April 1962, Blueberry Custard prompted critic Max Kozloff to suggest that in lieu of paint, the artist seemed to paint with flour, butter and sugar. The painting fittingly hung in Solomon's kitchen for many years. It was out of public view until recently exhibited in a Thiebaud retrospective at Jan Shrem and Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at U.C. Davis in 2018.
Blueberry Custard is one of 16 lots from the collection of Solomon, who was the founder of Tower Records. The record chain grew to more than 200 stores and enjoyed a list of celebrity customers such as Elton John and Bruce Springsteen. Solomon was an art collector with an artistic eye. Long before he became a giant in the record industry, Solomon worked as a photographer for his high school yearbook, and later held several photography exhibits in his hometown Sacramento. When he started collecting art in the 1950s, he was attracted to photo-realistic painting and collected works by other artists from his area.
Solomon designed his Sacramento home around his art collection. He emphasized abundant light and plentiful wall space to display paintings by artists including Thiebaud, Mel Ramos and Roy De Forest.
Heritage Auctions Modern & Contemporary Director Holly Sherratt notes "Russ's Sacramento home looked like an art museum filled with colorful works by California's most important artists. Russ's playful sense of humor was reflected in his artwork. He owned several monumental sculptures by Bay Area Funk artists, including Robert Arneson and David Gilhooly. I'm honored to be working on this project. A small piece of Russ's extraordinary legacy will live on through these wonderful works of art."
The Solomon collection represents a small fraction of the auction of Modern and Contemporary Art, which includes more than 160 lots. Other highlights from the Solomon collection include the following:
Robert Arneson Poised to Infinity, 1991 (estimate: $70,000-100,000)
Robert Arneson Simple Silly Sample, 1989 (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
Roy De Forest Revolt of the Giant Boy, 1987 (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
Manuel Neri Recuerdo Benecia No. 14, 1993 (estimate: $6,000-8,000)