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World-class artists featured in Crichton's collection

Published:Saturday | April 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Best-selling author Michael Crichton approached art in the same way he did his writing - through extensive research - but also by developing close friendships with many of the artists whose works he collected.

The popular thriller writer died in 2008, leaving behind such blockbus-ters as Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and the TV series ER.

But he also left a 20th-century art collection that features some of pop art's best known artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg.

Crichton's family is selling about 80 per cent of the collection at Christie's auction house in New York on May 11 and 12.

Among the highlights is Jasper Johns' Flag, a rendition of the American flag that Crichton bought from the artist in 1974, and which decorated the writer's Beverly Hills bedroom. It was last exhibited in 1992-93 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

About 70 of the 100 works from the collection, including paintings by Jeff Koons, Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg, will be displayed at Christie's Rockefeller Center galleries until April 13.

Brett Gorvy, deputy chairman of Christie's Americas, said Crichton was generous in lending works from his collection for exhibitions, but was possessive about the Flag.

"With the Flag it was such a personal thing because of his relationship with Johns," said Gorvy.