A new film has been made about an art collector who sold her Roy Lichtenstein painting for $165million.
Agnes Gund sold her Lichtenstein painting, Masterpiece, for $165million in 2017. And Agnes sold it for a reason, because she had a plan. She wanted to sell the piece to start a fund: using $100million from the sale she started the Art for Justice fund with aims to reform criminal justice and mass incarceration.
The film, Aggie, was directed by her daughter, Catherine Gund, and was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and is an “exploration of the nexus of art, race and justice.”
Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece was created in 1962 using Lichtenstein’s classic comic book style of Ben-day dots and speech in a bubble. It features a handsome young couple – a blond woman and a man with chiseled jaw and dark hair –celebrating his success as an artist in New York (this was supposedly Lichtenstein poking a little fun at himself). It was part of Lichtenstein’s first exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1963. The exhibition also included another of his most famous works, Drowning Girl.
Agnes has had a long career in art, having been the president of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1990s. She also included Lichtenstein among her friendship group, along with Jasper Johns and Louis Bourgeois.
Art for Justice is not Agnes’ first social enterprise. Throughout her years of collecting she has always championed social causes. Over 40 years ago set up Studio in a School to make sure New York City Public Schools had arts as part of their curriculum.
The film, Aggie, includes interviews with a number of artists and collectors and Agnes’ peers including Lichtenstein’s wife, Dorothy Lichtenstein, filmmaker John Waters and Darren Walker President of the Ford Foundation.
Since Agnes sold Masterpiece in 2017 it remains one of the 15 highest prices ever paid for an artwork.