A sizeable private art collection assembled by the late David Bowie throughout his life is to be exhibited in public for the first time, before going under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction.

Bowie’s life as a collector was something he kept almost entirely hidden from public view, as he bought pieces from all parts of the art world “obsessively and addictively”, in his own words, for over 40 years. After he died in January at the age of 69, his family only at that point discovered the extent of his collection, and are auctioning it as they don’t physically have the space to keep it.

David BowieDavid Bowie's private art collection is to be auctioned at Sotheby's

The collection, consisting of more than 300 works including pieces by Damien Hirst, Frank Auerbach, Henry Moore and Marcel Duchamp, will go on display at Sotheby’s in London later this year before the auction in November. Proceeds will be going to Bowie’s family, with more than £10 million expected to be raised.

However, given the devotion of many Bowie fans and the number of rare items – including many items of furniture, reflected the singer’s holistic interests in every aspect of the art and design world – it may fetch even more.

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Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said in a press release that Bowie, as a creator, was as great as any of the famous names in his art collection. “Eclectic, unscripted, understated: David Bowie’s collection offers a unique insight into the personal world of one of the 20th century’s greatest creative spirits.”

Bowie studied art and design at technical college as a young man, and maintained his interest throughout his life. Many famous artists have attested to his method of obtaining art, which he often did through direct contact with the artists themselves, buying for pleasure and not for investment.

Novellist William Boyd, one of Bowie’s close friends, said recently that he believed that the art world appealed to Bowie because he could really be himself.

“He could be himself, David Jones rather than David Bowie. He found a forum and a world that he could move about in that had nothing to do with his fame. I think for a lot of famous people, if you can find that world, it's actually tremendously gratifying and fulfilling.”

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