The $70 Million Art Collection of CBS Founder William Paley Headed to Auction

Artwork from the late CBS founder and MoMA chair William Paley is set to fetch at least $70 million at auction, with sale proceeds going towards new digital and tech initiatives at MoMA.

Black and white photo of William Paley in 1933.
William Paley in 1933.
(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

At least $70 million worth of art from the collection of the late William Paley, the founder of the CBS broadcast network, is set to be auctioned off by Sotheby’s. Proceeds from the sales will benefit new digital initiatives at the Museum of Modern Art, where Paley was once chairman and president.

Of the 29-piece collection, a 1963 Francis Bacon oil painting to be sold in London is estimated to fetch more than £30 million ($34.7 million), while 1919 Pablo Picasso will be offered for at least $20 million. Works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Andre Derain and Henri Rousseau will also be included in the auctions.

Three oil paintings by Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (1963). Courtesy of Sotheby's

Paley, who died in 1990, donated a number of works to MoMA over the years and often advised the museum’s acquisitions.

“The collection of William S. Paley is among the greatest historic American collections: in his collecting, and in his contributions to MoMA, Paley helped to redefine the face of Modern Art,” said Sotheby’s head of contemporary art David Galperin in a statement.

Cubist painting by Picasso
Pablo Picasso’s Guitare sur une table (1919). Courtesy of Sotheby's

Sale proceeds will be donated to charitable organizations such as the Paley Museum and Greenpark Foundation, in addition to benefiting a new MoMA endowment focused on acquisitions and media and technology advances.

Auctions for the 29 works will take place in October and November, with one piece set to be sold sometime in 2023.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the estimated price for a Francis Bacon was mistakenly listed in dollars, not pounds. It is expected to sell for at least £30 million.  The $70 Million Art Collection of CBS Founder William Paley Headed to Auction