A 1971 portrait of the artist Stanley Whitney painted by Barkley Hendricks is poised to break a record for the artists when it is offered at auction in May.
The painting, titled “Stanley,” picture its titular subject in street clothes standing against a gold background and smoking a cigarette. It will be offered during a single owner sale at Christie’s where it’s expected to fetch $5 million. If it reaches its low estimate, the painting’s sale will be a record price for a work by Hendricks, who died in 2017 at the age of 72.
The two Philadelphia-born artists met while studying at Yale University in the 1970s. Hendricks would eventually become known for his paintings of fashion forward subjects —predominantly depicting people of color in his inner circles. He’s credited for influencing the current generation of Black figurative painters working today.
The last time a major Hendricks work came to auction was in December 2020. The 1972 canvas Mr. Johnson (Sammy from Miami), 1972, depicting one of the artist’s signature nonchalantly-posed models sold for $4 million during a Sotheby’s contemporary sale in New York—setting a new auction record for the artist. The result surpassed the previous high of $3.7 million paid for Hendricks’s Yocks (1975) at Sotheby’s in 2019.
Recognition surged for Hendricks following the Nasher Museum of Art’s lauded retrospective “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool,” in 2008 at Duke University. Whitney, who is 77, has seen his own milestones recently. His abstract works garnered attention during a collateral exhibition staged at the last edition of the Venice Biennale in 2022.
The painting will be being offered alongside a group of other works owned by the Boston developer Gerald Fineberg, who died in December 2022. 500 works from the real-estate magnate’s holdings that include paintings by art historical heavyweights like Willem de Kooning and Gerhard Richter, valued at $8 million and $15 million, respectively, will also be sold.
Fineberg, while amassing his collection of contemporary art, served on the boards of Massachusetts art institutions including the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston. The latter has a wall named for Fineberg and his wife, Sandra.
The estate collection is expected to generate a total of $270 million, according to Christie’s statement.