The de la Cruz Collection Museum’s Holdings Are Headed for the Auction Block

The collection amassed by Miami philanthropist and arts patron Rosa de la Cruz includes an impressive selection of works by Ana Mendieta.

Three people standing in gallery room
The de la Cruz collection will be sold in a series of auctions. Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The celebrated art collection of Rosa de la Cruz, a Miami-based arts patron who died earlier this year at age 81, is headed for the block. Starting in May, the majority of her extensive art holdings will be sold in a series of auctions at Christie's in New York.

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Previously housed in the de la Cruz Collection museum, the collection encompasses more than 1,000 contemporary works and is expected to fetch upward of $30 million, as first reported by Artnet News. Filled with heavyweights like Wade Guyton, Peter Doig and Rashid Johnson, it is particularly distinguished by its emphasis on prominent Cuban-American artists like Ana Mendieta and Félix González-Torres.

“Rosa was a lynchpin in transforming Miami’s art community and a seminal figure in the cultural conversation around 21st-century art globally,” Isabella Lauria, head of Christie’s 21st-century evening sales, told Observer. “We are humbled to work alongside the de la Cruz family as we share Rosa’s collecting journey and passion with a new generation of collectors across the world.”

Man and woman dressed in suit and black dress pose in front of colorful striped wall
Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz at the Museum of Contemporary Art on February 25, 2012. John Parra/WireImage for MOCA

De la Cruz and her husband Carlos, the chairman of bottling and distribution empire CC1 Companies Inc., were born in Cuba but later fled to the U.S. amid the regime of Fidel Castro, eventually settling in Miami in the 1970s. They started collecting in 1988 with the acquisition of Rufino Tamayo’s 1956 Star Gazer. But after the couple in 1992 discovered the work of González-Torres, who addressed societal and political issues through sculptures made of common materials, their collecting tastes veered toward the contemporary.

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As their holdings grew, the duo quickly became an integral part of Miami’s art scene. In addition to opening up her art-filled home by appointment, de la Cruz in 2001 founded the nonprofit arts organization Moore Space to showcase Miami-based artists during Art Basel. In 2009, the couple opened the de la Cruz Collection museum in a 30,000-square-foot museum in Miami’s Design District. The private arts institution, which was designed by architect John Marquette, sponsored scholarships and educational travel throughout the years via programs that supported students from New York’s Design and Architecture Senior High and Miami’s New World School of the Arts.

The de la Cruz Collection sales will feature several works by Ana Mendieta

Three portraits hanging on gallery wall show woman pushing her face up to glass
Photographs by Ana Mendieta at the Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna in 2010. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The museum shut its doors following de la Cruz’s death in February. The building that housed her private museum will be sold, while much of her collection will feature in Christie’s New York upcoming evening sales and subsequent auctions. The auctioneer is particularly “thrilled” to offer a survey of work by Mendieta for the first time, according to Lauria, who noted that her “artistic legacy has only recently started to receive the recognition it so deeply deserves, both within institutions and more broadly in popular culture.”

A Cuban emigre like de la Cruz, Mendieta was best known for images and photographs that captured interactions between her body and the natural elements. De la Cruz was an avid fan of the late artist, collecting several of her pieces and hosting a 2015 exhibition dedicated to Mendieta. At the time, she told Observer that she was likely the largest owner of Ana Mendieta works outside the artist’s family and that despite Mendieta’s influence on the likes of Tracey Emin and Rachel Harrison, “very seldom do you see her work.”

“It’s all about the healing nature of Mother Earth, the healing power of the female body,” said de la Cruz of Mendieta’s practice. “I knew her work was going to be important historically.”

The de la Cruz Collection Museum’s Holdings Are Headed for the Auction Block