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Sotheby's secured the consignment of 500 works from the estate of their former owner against fierce competition, issuing the vendors with what is likely the largest guarantee in auction history.

The collection has been valued at a mammoth $500m, making it the most valuable single-owner collection ever offered at auction.

The works range from antiquity to contemporary art and include Amedeo Modigliani's Portrait de Paulette Jourdain estimated at $25m-35m and a Willem de Kooning pitched at the same level.

Auction History

Taubman remains a pivotal but controversial figure in the auction business - his contribution to the modern, retail-based auction house tainted by a prison sentence for his role in the price-fixing scandal.

A self-made billionaire from Michigan whose fortune came from shopping malls, real estate and root beer, he purchased the auction house in 1983.

Proceeds from the sale (at the New York premises he helped to develop) will be used to settle Taubman's estate tax obligations and fund his charitable foundation.

Christie's, however, appear to have secured the individual headline lot of the upcoming Big Apple sales with Modigliani's Nu couché (Reclining Nude) estimated to exceed $100m on November 9.

Once again, Christie's are staging their Imp & Mods and Contemporary art auctions in the same week - a shift in the calendar they introduced in May - while Sotheby's continue with a back-to-back approach, staging the two sales series over a fortnight.