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British Telecom Tycoon David Ross to Sell Portion of Collection at Sotheby’s

British philanthropist David Ross is selling a portion of his collection at Sotheby’s. Sixty works that Ross amassed over the course of two decades will be offered in a dedicated sale titled “This is Tomorrow,” which takes its name from the 1956 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition that helped cement the British Pop art movement—an area in which Ross’s holdings are particularly rich. The auction will take place online with bidding open between September 7 and 15.
Sotheby’s has not yet released estimates for the works to be offered, though the house said they range in price from as low as several hundred pounds up to six figures. Proceeds from the sale will go benefit Ross’s namesake foundation, which supports initiatives in eduction and the arts in the U.K.
“Every piece in my collection has its own story, connected to a memory if you will,” Ross said in a statement issued by Sotheby’s.
Ross began collecting in 2000, the same year he visited Bridget Riley’s retrospective at New York’s Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea—a moment, Ross said, “that first opened my eyes to collecting, and more specifically to collecting British art.” His collection is mainly comprised of work by contemporary artists from the U.K. dating back to the mid-1960s.
Highlights from the collection to be sold at Sotheby’s include Tony Bevan’s painting Red Interior (1999), Gilbert & George’s ten-part mixed media work Head Over Heels (1973), Keith Haring’s four-part screenprint Pop Shop Quad IV (Littmann p. 142) , 1989, and works by Damien Hirst, Peter Blake, and Glenn Brown.
As for the decision to sell off a portion of his collection, Ross said he no longer has room to keep all of the works on display in his Devonshire estate. “I don’t believe in pictures being in storage, it’s part of my philosophy,” he said.
Ross’s estimated net worth is $878 million, according to the Telegraph . He houses his extensive art collection at his 13th-century Nevil Holt estate in Leicestershire.
In November, Ross was revealed to be the buyer of a prized David Hockney portrait sold by the financially strapped London Royal Opera House. He bought it for £12.8 million ($16.9 million) during a Christie’s London evening sale.
The cofounder of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, Ross pledged to return Hockney’s Portrait of Sir David Webster  (1971) to its original London venue, where it had been displayed for five decades. At the time of the sale, Ross served as the chair of the historic theatre’s board of trustees. Just months after the purchase, the Royal Opera House announced that Ross would step down from his role at the board’s chairman after four years.
Ross said he plans to loan the work to the 2023 exhibition of London’s National Portrait Gallery, where he serves as a trustee, after it reopens following a renovation.

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