George Michael’s personal art collection to go on tour before Christie’s auction

George Michael

More than 200 pieces of artwork by Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas and other members of the "Young British Artists" generation - who, along with the late singer, shook up the country's creative scene in the '80s and '90s - will be on display in the Christie's Rockefeller Plaza art auction spot from Friday through Monday.

The proceeds of the collection's sale will go towards furthering George Michael's philanthropic work following his death. just over two years ago, on Christmas Day 2016.

As Christie's note in a release, George Michael had strong ties to contemporary visual artists and enjoyed supporting emerging talent, visiting their galleries and studios.

As well as being a chart-topping singer, Michael - real name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - was a prolific collector of art, championing the Young British Artists (YBA) movement that rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"He was introduced to Tracey Emin and from then everything is history", Albu said of Michael.

He said Michael wanted "to celebrate a time in which new life was breathed into London", and began buying works by artists who became personal friends.

More than 200 pieces will go under the hammer, including Hirst's The Incomplete Truth, a glass case holding a dove preserved in formaldehyde, which is expected to be sold for £1 million to £1.5 million. And there's a blanket decorated with words "Drunk to the Bottom of my Soul" by Emin - it's valued at 180,000 pounds to 250,000 pounds.

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FILE - In this February 12, 2008 file photo, an unidentified person walks behind "The Incomplete Truth" by artist Damien Hirst that is on display at The Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas.

Albu said the collection also reveals Michael's sense of humor. It will conclude in London, being shown in a special public exhibition at Christie's headquarters March 9-14.

"He took that moment and he turned it into a joke, and he turned that joke into art", Albu said. Estimates for works offered in the online sale will start at £400, rising to £1.5 million on the top lots in the flagship live auction.

Before the auction in London, an expansive global tour of the collection will pay tribute to the groundbreaking spirit of George Michael.

During his career, both with Wham! and later as a solo artist, Michael sold more than 100 million records and had a string of massive hits between 1983 and 1996, a record unmatched by a British artist since The Beatles.

Michael was part of the English pop duo Wham!, followed by a solo career, and died December 25, 2016, at the age of 53.

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