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Last chance to see Tomato Head in L.A. before Peter Norton sale

September 27, 2011 |  3:58 pm


He has bought art, loaned art, and donated art--all in serious quantities. Now Peter Norton is trying something new: selling a small but valuable chunk of his 1,700-piece art collection at auction.

The software entrepreneur, who with his ex-wife Eileen Norton built one of California's leading contemporary art collections, has consigned to Christie's some of his best-known pieces, including works by L.A. artists Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy and Charles Ray. He is selling off 60 works estimated to bring about $25 million at Christie's in its high-profile evening sale Nov. 8 and smaller sale the following day.

About half are being shown this week in Los Angeles in a preview open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in a warehouse at MILK Studios at 855 N. Cahuenga Boulevard. Look for McCarthy's Tomato Head, shown during an installation above, as well as signature works by Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Fred Tomaselli and Christopher Wool. Most works land on the poppy, colorful and palatable end of the conceptual/installation art spectrum, even when it comes to work by masters of the grotesque like McCarthy and Kelley.

The Nortons divorced in 2000 and each kept some of the art, so that is not the trigger for the sale. The official word from collection manager Gwen Hill is that Norton (who was traveling and unavailable for comment) "plans on using the assets to establish a new charitable trust." She does not have details on the trust's focus or mission.


Elizabeth Taylor auction preview coming to MOCA PDC

The Getty has installed Charles Ray's sculpture 'Boy With a Frog'

--Jori Finkel


Image: Paul McCarthy's sculpture Tomato Head (Green) from 1994, one of three variations of the sculpture, will carry an estimate at Christie's near $1 million.