Adam Pendleton and Venus Williams unite to preserve Nina Simone’s childhood home in New York auction

Major contemporary artists will auction works in May 2023, with funds supporting the preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home

white house on green grass at Nina Simone Childhood Home in Tryon, North Carolina
Nina Simone's childhood home
(Image credit: Photo by Nancy Pierce /National Trust for Historic Preservation)

An art auction staged by acclaimed artist Adam Pendleton and tennis star Venus Williams  will aim to raise funds for the Nina Simone Childhood Home preservation project. 

On 20 May 2023, the event at Pace Gallery New York and online auction at Sotheby's will raise funds for the largest-ever preservation effort dedicated to African American historic sites. The Nina Simone Childhood Home preservation project is led by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

‘Nina Simone is one of the most important musical artists of the 20th century. I’m inspired to be able to protect her legacy by preserving her childhood home. Her music, her vision, cannot be forgotten,’ says Pendleton of what inspired his involvement with the event, which unites works by leading contemporary artists.

portrait of Nina Simone. An auction in may will seek to raise funds for Nina Simone’s childhood home

Nina Simone

(Image credit: Photo courtesy Nina Simone Project)

The purpose of the project is to restore musician and civil rights activist Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, North Carolina, which was jointly purchased by Pendleton and fellow artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu in 2017 in a bid to protect Simone’s legacy. 

The exhibition – which also includes artworks by Stanley Whitney, Mary Weatherford, Robert Longo and Cecily Brown – will be on view at Pace’s New York gallery from 12 – 20 May 2023. The accompanying online auction held by Sotheby’s opens for bidding on 12 May and closes 22 May. 

‘Each of the artists Adam and I have selected for the auction has a unique, powerful voice, and we’ve been moved by their generosity and enthusiasm for this important cause,’ Williams comments. ‘It’s been a privilege to collaborate with Adam in curating the auction.’

Portrait of Adam Pendleton, who is co-hosting an auction for Nina Simone's Childhood home

Artist Adam Pendleton

(Image credit: Pace Gallery)

The project, which also includes a benefit gala, aims to draw attention to the work of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, established in 2017 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For Brent Leggs, executive director of the fund and senior vice president of the trust, it is an opportunity to discover Nina Simone through her childhood spent in the Jim Crow South. ‘Our partnership with the artists, Venus Williams, and Pace Gallery is a powerful demonstration of how art and preservation practice can join forces to permanently preserve Simone’s remarkable legacy,’ he adds. ‘Together, we will secure the home’s future and inspire a new generation of diverse leaders who will memorialise the places where Black history happened.’

Online bidding in the auction will be available to the public at 11am EDT beginning 12 May and closing on 22 May at 3pm EDT. All the artworks in the auction will be available to view in person – in addition to online – at Pace’s West 25th Street gallery in New York throughout the course of the sale, from 12–20 May

Nina Simone's Childhood home

The porch of Nina Simone childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina

(Image credit: Nancy Pierce)

The organ inside Nina Simone childhood home

The organ inside Nina Simone's childhood home

(Image credit: Nancy Pierce)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.