The Art Collection of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum Heads to Auction

The couple accumulated a significant collection of Himalayan art over a period of three decades.

Well-dressed couple clink glasses of champagne
Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum celebrate their wedding announcement with champagne. © Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS/VCG via Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband Richard Blum, who died respectively in 2023 and 2022, led lives filled with influence, success and an appetite for international travel—and left behind an extraordinary art collection to show for it. With pieces spanning eight centuries from across Tibet, Nepal and Greater China, the couple’s collection even included works once owned by the brother of the Dalai Lama.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="nofollow noreferer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

Now, more than 40 pieces amassed by Feinstein and Blum over three decades are heading to auction at Bonhams. The Richard C. Blum and Senator Dianne Feinstein Collection of Himalayan Art will go on the block on March 20 during Asia Week New York.

Living room filled with paintings and sculptures
A view of the couple’s art collection in their San Francisco home. Courtesy Bonhams

The lots are collectively valued at more than $3 million

The sale will include works from between the 13th and 19th centuries and is expected to bring in upwards of $3 million. Highlights include a thangka, a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, dating from between the late 12th Century to the early 13th Century and estimated to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000.

SEE ALSO: The Gallery of the Future: Navigating the Evolving World of Digital Art

The artwork collected by Feinstein and Blum, which tended toward portraits of important historical figures from schools of Tibetan Buddhism, “is a true testament to the couple’s discerning eye and attention to detail,” according to a statement from Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams’ global head of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art. “The collection was integral to their lives, present almost without exception in every room of their homes and offices,” he said.

There’s no doubt that Feinstein and Blum, who married in 1980, were one of California’s top power couples. The former mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992 and went on to become the longest-tenured female U.S. senator in history. Blum served as chairman and president of investment firm Blum Capital and was estimated to have a net worth of more than $1 billion.

Living room with paintings hanging on the wall behind couch
Feinstein and Blum focused on works representative of the painting traditions of the Himalayas. Courtesy Bonhams

Along with an illustrious political career, Feinstein maintained an avid interest in art. She was known for dabbling in color-pencil drawings, creating what she called “doodles” of flowers and birds. The senator’s prints were collected across Washington and donated to the California State Society for annual charity raffles.

Blum, meanwhile, had a long-standing love for Tibet that stemmed from a childhood spent reading National Geographic and books by adventure writer Richard Halliburton. He first made his way to the region in the 1960s and met the Dalai Lama soon after, becoming fast friends with the spiritual leader. His appreciation for the Tibetan diaspora inspired the creation of the American Himalayan Foundation, a nonprofit aiding social programs in Tibet and nearby areas, and the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley.

“His friendship with the Dalai Lama helped shape us, and his creation of the American Himalayan Foundation was one of his proudest achievements,” said Feinstein in a statement following Blum’s death, adding that her late husband’s “compassion and devotion to the people of the Himalayan region may prove to be his most enduring legacy.”

The Art Collection of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum Heads to Auction