Martin Margulies Is Auctioning Off His $5.6M Photography Collection

The retired real-estate developer and art collector is selling hundreds of photographs by notable artists to benefit his philanthropic foundation.

Photograph of couple in red car
William Eggleston, Untitled (Couple In Red Car At Drive-In Restaurant), (1965-1968). Courtesy Phillips

For more than three decades, Miami-based real estate mogul and art collector Martin Margulies has showcased his vast photography collection (that’s part of an even larger contemporary art collection) at the Warehouse, the nonprofit arts space funded by his eponymous foundation.

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To support the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, Margulies is auctioning off around 450 photographs collectively valued at between $3.8 million and $5.6 million. Works by the likes of Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems and Hank Willis Thomas will be sold by Phillips in a series of auctionlys beginning this April that will benefit Margulies’ organization.

The collector, whose name is often listed alongside other art world notables like Norman Braman or Donald and Mera Rubell, opened the 50,000-square-foot Warehouse in 1999 to house his 4,000-piece collection of contemporary paintings, sculptures and installations by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella. Photography has also played a major role in Margulies’ art collection activities. “When we started collecting photography in the 1990s, it opened up a whole new life: new books to read, new galleries to visit, new people to connect with, and new things to learn,” he said in a statement.

Families stands beside segregated water fountains
Gordon Parks, Segregation Story (1 of 12 photographs in the set), (1956). Courtesy Phillips

The auction will include iconic works by Gordon Parks and Danny Lyon

Margulies’ photography collection, which emphasizes diverse perspectives exploring society and the human condition, will be sold in live auctions in April and October, with online auctions to be announced at a later date. The first sale on April 4 will include more than 150 lots, with pieces like Gordon ParksSegregation Story series. First published in LIFE Magazine in 1956, the collection of twelve photographs explores race relations in the U.S. and has a high estimate of $90,000.

The auction will also feature two major series from Danny Lyon. The Bikeriders, a fifty-image exploration of motorcycle subculture in the 1960s during which Lyon embedded with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, is expected to fetch between $40,000 and $60,000. And the photographer’s set of seventy-six images from Conversations with the Dead, a study of Texas prisons, has an estimate of between $50,000 and $70,000.

Ed Ruscha’s survey of Los Angeles in the 1962, Gasoline Stations,  is expected to realize between $100,000 and $150,000. Also on the block is Thomas Struth’s Pergamon Museum 1, Berlin, his 2001 exploration of museum-goers, with a high estimate of $180,000.

Black and white image of motorbike on highway
Danny Lyon, The Bikeriders (1 of 50 photographs in the set), (1963-1966). Courtesy Phillips

Proceeds from the sales will help fund the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation’s support of organizations that improve food security and aid the poor, homeless, marginalized children and veterans. While the organization’s most prominent activities are in the arts, Margulies has been an especially passionate supporter of the Lotus Village Shelter for Women and Children in Miami, a local resource and residential facility.

Margulies’s philanthropy has also included significant donations to art institutions, which he believes should be funded by donations. He has bequeathed $5 million to both the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a vocal critic of institutions like the Pérez Art Museum of Miami that receive millions in public funding. “I felt the money would be better used for social services such as feeding hungry people, looking after the homeless and suchlike,” he told the Financial Times in 2022. “Private people should be paying for museums.”

His vast art collection, much of which is open to the public via exhibitions mounted by The Warehouse, will eventually be sold to benefit charity and his children. The Phillips auction is just a first step.

“There comes a time in every collector’s journey when they must address the future of their collection,” said Margulies. “Now, we are excited to present these photographs to a new generation of collectors who we hope will share our passion for photography and our deep appreciation for the medium in all its manifestations.”

Martin Margulies Is Auctioning Off His $5.6M Photography Collection