In October 2007 the legendary dealer Ileana Sonnabend dies at age 92. The following April, her heirs sell a portion of her postwar-art collection for $600 million — reportedly the largest private sale in history. • In 2008, after defaulting on a $200 million loan from Merrill Lynch, the New York jeweler Ralph Esmerian is forced to sell Edward Hickss Peaceable Kingdom, 1846, at Sotheby’s. The work had been promised to the American Folk Art Museum. Esmerian also files a motion to stop a Merrill sale of jewels from his family’s collection at Christie’s hours before it is to begin. Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian natural-resources baron, buys the Forbes Fabergé holdings from Sotheby’s in 2004 for a reported $110 million. • In 2005, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to amass a collection of Islamic art for museums in Qatar, Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed al-Thani is accused of embezzling official funds. • Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton pays $35 million in 2005 for Asher B. Durands Kindred Spirits, 1846-48, which had belonged to the New York Public Library. She outbids the Met and the National Gallery. • Art traders José Mugrabi and his sons David and Alberto are among the most influential salesroom players of the decade, fueling markets for Warhol, Basquiat and other blue-chip names.
"Newsmakers: 1999-2009" originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Art+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's September 2009 Table of Contents.