Jeffrey M. Kaplan is the definition of a true renaissance man. While many collectors choose to focus only on one area, Mr. Kaplan has formed a “collection of collections.” Raised in an artistic and cultured family, he graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Art History and English literature before attending Yale Law School. He began collecting in earnest in his thirties, and was intensely involved in the cataloguing, physical care, and presentation of his collection. He acquired the works of artists in depth in a number of fields of interest, and this passion for collecting has allowed him to assemble an astonishing body of works in many media that spans across 1,000 years. Transcending the role of collector, Mr. Kaplan has served as his own curator: hanging, re-hanging, and even acquiring adjunct spaces in order to live with his entire collection within his residence.
In April of 2017, Freeman’s offered close to 500 items from his collection—including significant works on paper, Asian works of art, modern and contemporary design, and 19th European decorative arts by noted artists and designers—in a single-owner sale appropriately titled “1,000 Years of Collecting.” The auction was held in two sessions, and sold 99% by dollar and 96% by lot, totaling over $1.2 million in sales. Works by artist Charles Ephraim Burchfield topped the results, with one watercolor, “March Pools at Twilight,” selling for $131,250 against an estimate of $20,000-30,000.
This May, as part of our spring Modern & Contemporary Art offering, Freeman’s will again revisit Mr. Kaplan’s vast collection, this time bringing to auction almost three dozen photographs by esteemed British photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Sir Anthony Snowden, Terence Donovan, and Terry O’Neill. Mostly portraits, the subjects of the photographs range from a young Paul McCartney, playing the piano at Ringo Starr’s wedding; iconic actresses Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Deitrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Brigitte Bardot; and even Queen Elizabeth II herself, at the tender age of 16. The British monarchy has a strong connection to the collection of photographs: Cecil Beaton often photographed the Royal Family, and Sir Anthony Snowden was formerly Anthony Armstrong-Jones, before his marriage to Princess Margaret, younger sister to Queen Elizabeth II.