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In Partnership with Swann Galleries, Invaluable Offers Live Online Bidding on The Art Collection of Maya Angelou

50 Works of Art from The Collection of Dr. Maya Angelou, including “Maya’s Quilt of Life” and More to Be Offered at Auction on September 15, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:45 am EDT


"Dr. Angelou, known as an American cultural icon, award winning poet, writer, educator and activist, spent her life surrounded by diverse artistic ventures. Her creative passions shine through in this collection, and we’re thrilled to offer this special opportunity to our bidders."

BOSTON – August 11, 2015 – Invaluable, the world’s leading online live auction marketplace, today announced that it is partnering with Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Art department to offer online bidding on the auction of The Art Collection of Maya Angelou, taking place on Tuesday, September 15. Bidders can view the full collection on and bid online in real-time during the live auction taking place at 2:30pm ET.

This exclusive auction features 50 works of art collected by Dr. Angelou over her lifetime. The collection hung in her private residences, with only a few pieces occasionally lent to museums and institutions, making this the first time the majority of these works have been publicly exhibited.

“We are honored to partner with Swann Galleries to host this historic auction in remembrance of Dr. Maya Angelou,” said Rob Weisberg, Invaluable CEO. “Dr. Angelou, known as an American cultural icon, award winning poet, writer, educator and activist, spent her life surrounded by diverse artistic ventures. Her creative passions shine through in this collection, and we’re thrilled to offer this special opportunity to our bidders.”

The online auction will feature prominent pieces from Dr. Angelou’s art collection, such as a painted story quilt by Faith Ringgold titled Maya’s Quilt of Life, 1989. The quilt was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey as a birthday gift for Dr. Angelou, and includes text from her poems and memoirs. This is the first of Ringgold’s story quilts to come to auction and it is expected to bring $150,000 - $250,000.

Additional highlights of the sale include the monumental panoramic oil painting by North Carolinian artist John Biggers, Kumasi Market, oil and acrylic on masonite board, 1962, estimated at $100,000 - $150,000. This piece reflects Biggers’ experiences in Ghana in the late 1950s and highlights his focus on the societal importance of African women. The sale also features Ethiopian Women, Conté crayon on paper, 1969, estimated at $15,000 - $25,000, as well as a range of lithographs from the later part of Biggers’ career depicting the shotgun houses and geometric quilt designs that became common in his work.

Dr. Angelou was an avid supporter of female artists, and the sale will include lots from her collection of works by Phoebe Beasley, Elizabeth Catlett and Samella Lewis, among others. This includes the Beasley collage, Catnap, mixed media on canvas, 1980, estimated at $4,000 - $6,000, as well as Elizabeth Catlett’s distinctive lithograph, Two Generations, 1979, expected to realize $4,000 - $6,000.

Other noteworthy lots included in the sale are several works from North Carolina-born artist, Romare Bearden, including the strikingly colorful watercolor, The Obeah’s Choice, 1984, estimated at $20,000 - $30,000 and a color lithograph inscribed to Dr. Angelou Falling Star, 1980, estimated at $3,000 - $5,000.

The sale also features a painting by Dr. Angelou herself, The Protector of Home and Family, oil on canvas, 1969, estimated at $15,000 - $25,000, which was painted shortly after she completed her acclaimed autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

In addition to allowing the public to view and bid on pieces via live and online auctions, Swann Galleries will host a public exhibition of the collection opening September 9-11 from 10am-6pm; September 12 from 12pm to 5pm; September 14 from 10am-6pm; and September 15 from 10am-12pm.

“The collection of Dr. Angelou shows the natural affinity this great American poet, writer, thinker and educator had with many visual artists,” said Nigel Freeman, Director of African-American Fine Art at Swann Galleries. “The auction includes paintings, works on paper, fine prints and sculpture by such important African-American artists as Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Melvin Edwards, Jonathan Green and Faith Ringgold. Their common artistic interests and experiences are evident in the narrative and expressive qualities of the work in the collection–from John Biggers' market scenes to Faith Ringgold's story quilts. It will also be the first and only time the public will be able to see this private side of one of America's great cultural heroes.”

To view the full catalog and bid online in the upcoming auction at Swann Auction Galleries, please visit

About Invaluable

Invaluable, the world’s leading online live auction marketplace, features a live online bidding platform that allows collectors and dealers to bid in real-time in auctions held around the world. As the leading developer of SaaS and e-commerce applications for the auction industry, Invaluable provides auction houses with e-commerce and marketing solutions, as well as auction management software. Invaluable best-in-class historical price database includes more than 58 million complete auction results, totaling more than $204 billion in value. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Boston, Invaluable also has offices in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter: @InvaluableLive.

About Swann Galleries

Swann Auction Galleries was founded in 1941 as an auction house specializing in rare and antique books. Since then, the house has developed a reputation as the largest specialist auctioneers of rare and antique works on paper, hosting approximately 40 sales per year of books, photographs, prints, posters, autographs, and more. Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Art department was founded in 2007 and Swann remains the only auction house to host regular auctions devoted to this collecting category. Swann is a platinum house offering live auctions on and has hosted hundreds of past auctions on the site. For more information, visit or follow @swanngalleries.


Invaluable Media Contact:

Denise Bertrand

Phone: 617-779-1889



Swann Galleries Media Contact:

Alexandra Nelson, Communications Director

Phone: 212-254-4710 ext. 19                      


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