11 Early Yayoi Kusama Works Are Scheduled for Auction

The artist gave them to her doctor in the 1960s

Artist Yayoi Kusama wearing her signature bright red wig
Yayoi Kusama at the press preview for "I Who Have Arrived In Heaven" at David Zwirner Art Gallery in 2013.
Andrew Toth/Getty Images

If you’re a doctor and one of your patients offers to pay you in art, it might behoove you to take the deal. Art history is punctuated by instances of doctors whose financially struggling patients paid them in paintings or drawings, and who ended up with works worth millions. The case of Dr. Heinrich Rieger — whose dental patients included painter Egon Schiele — is especially notable here, but Dr. Rieger was far from alone in this.

Now, another collection of art given to a medical professional as payment is set to be auctioned off. At Hyperallergic, Cassie Packard has more information on Dr. Teruo Hirose’s collection of works by Yayoi Kusama. In 1960, Kusama visited Dr. Hirose for the first time. The doctor was known for providing inexpensive or free services to recent Japanese immigrants, as Kusama was; over the years, Kusama gave Dr. Hirose three paintings and eight works on paper.

Bonhams is handling the auction, which is set to take place on May 12. From April 7-22, some of the works will be visible in Hong Kong, and the full collection will be on display in New York from April 30 to May 12. According to Hyperallergic, the 11 works will collectively fetch between $8.8 and $14 million. For an artist whose profile continues to rise, it’s another significant milestone.

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