Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Les Fraises.

The MoMA Sells $70 Million in Art to Fund Its Digital Platform

The digital age is catching up to the art world as CBS founder and former Museum of Modern Art president William Paley’s foundation is to be sold in auctions through Sotheby’s. The Paley Foundation has confirmed to sell 29 of its 81 works, including pieces by renowned artists such as Picasso’s Guitare sur une table, and Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, which both are estimated to value at $30 to $35 million. Bacon’s work has not been on the market since it was first purchased by Paley. The auction is expected to bring about $70 to $100 million in total. 

The auctions will take place in London and New York from October to November, and are a reminder that the art donated to museums will not stay on debut forever.

Francis Bacon,Three Studies for the Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for the Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963. Above: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Les Fraises, 1905. 

While recent physical foot traffic has dropped from 3 million to 1.65 million yearly visitors, according to the MoMa director, Glenn Lowry, the digital space is continuing to grow as the MoMA site, Instagram, and YouTube have gotten the attention of 35 million people this far. 

“We’re growing our digital audience, not losing any, so we realize we need to increase our capacity off-site and online,” said Lowry. The museum will utilize its expanding digital space with virtual walk-throughs and video content of artist chats. The end goal to possibly have its own art-related streaming platform.