A Robert Rauschenberg canvas could fetch 50 million at
upcoming auction 1

Robert Rauschenberg’s “Buffalo II” will go up for auction on May 15 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale in New York.

This imposing eight-foot-tall canvas is dominated by a large photograph of former US president John F. Kennedy. It also features an eclectic range of images and motifs, which, for Rauschenberg, defined America in the 1960s – including the Coca-Cola logo, an army helicopter and an astronaut.

Known as one of the pioneers of the silkscreen technique, Rauschenberg used various images collected from newspapers and magazines, along with his own photographs, to create “Buffalo II.” At the time, Andy Warhol had just begun using the technique, which was still regarded as “low art”.

“Buffalo II” is estimated to fetch US$50 million – an estimate which would nearly triple the artist’s auction record of US$18.6 million set in 2015.

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Up for auction as part of the collection of art patrons Robert B and Beatrice C Mayer, the painting was acquired shortly after the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963. It was bought for US$16,900 from art dealer Leo Castelli, who represented Rauschenberg at the time.

“Everyone has been waiting for this painting. It’s the very best of the silkscreen paintings that’s left in private hands,” said  Sara Friedlander, Christie’s International Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art, to Bloomberg.

Other major highlights offered from the Robert B and Beatrice C Mayer Family Collection include Roy Lichtenstein’s “Kiss III,” estimated at US$30 million and Andy Warhol’s “Liz (Early Colored Liz),” estimated at US$20 million.

These works will go under the hammer during Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale on May 15 in New York.