Cecil Amelia Blaffer was born in 1919 in Houston as the heiress to the two biggest oil fortunes in all of Texas. Her father was the founder of what would become Exxon Mobile and her maternal grandfather was the founder of what would become Texaco. It’s hard to imagine what family history could make for a more authentic kind of American royalty. And then, after decades of philanthropy in her native state, “Titi,” as she was called, married Prince Tassilo von Fürstenberg and became a European princess as well. For the rest of her long life, Von Furstenberg continued her dueling mission of public support for the arts and private entertaining at her homes around the world.
All the time, she was building on the collection of modern art her mother, the Texas arts patron Sarah “Sadie” Campbell, had started. Now, 13 years after Princess Titi’s death, more than 30 of those works will go on the auction block at Christie’s during its New York sales in May. The highlights include works by Pablo Picasso
, Lucio Fontana
, André Derain
, and Mark Rothko
It’s a Picasso that leads the sale, Le Lettre (La Reponse)
, a 1923 early portrait of his first wife, Olga, that was acquired by Sadie Campbell in 1943 from Picasso’s dealer Paul Rosenberg
, and passed on to her daughter. The estimate is on-request, but other outlets have reported
it to be between $20 million and $30 million.