Sotheby’s to Sell Works from the Collection of Art Director and Steve Jobs Collaborator Tamotsu Yagi

This summer, Sotheby’s will sell works from the collection of Tamotsu Yagi, the art director that helped cement the fashion-forward reputation of the San Francisco-based apparel company Esprit with the introduction of their signature “graphic look” of the mid 1980s.

The sale, which will take place live at Sotheby’s New York on June 5, will be led by Cy Twombly’s 1962 canvas Death of Giuliano de Medici, which carries as estimate in the region of $1 million.

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Titled No Detail is Small: Art and Design from The Tamotsu Yagi Collection, the sale is comprised of three prints (also by Twombly), 28 design lots by French midcentury luminaries like Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, and eight pieces of contemporary art including works by Richard Long, On Kawara, and George Rickey. 

In 1984 Yagi was personally hired by Esprit co-founder Douglas Tompkins. Soon after Yagi was involved in or oversaw nearly every aspect of the brand’s identity. During his time at Esprit Yagi befriended Apple founder Steve Jobs, who used to visit the designer on the Esprit campus. That relationship bore fruit years later, in 2000, when Jobs commissioned Yagi to help outline the design aesthetic that would eventually be on view across the globe in Apple’s retail stores.

Yagi’s graphic and industrial design works are held in the permanent collection of SFMOMA, and part of the collection was recently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2022. He is currently working as Art Director for the World Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan.


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