Merton Simpson collection goes to auction

February 17, 2017

Nearly 100 pieces of art made or collected by the late Merton D. Simpson will be auctioned Saturday. The portion of his large collection being sold this weekend is estimated to be worth more than $200,000 and could fetch substantially more than that, according to Matthew Quinn of Quinn Auction Galleries, which is based in Falls Church, Va.

Simpson was a Charleston native who studied with William Halsey and went on to enjoy a successful career in New York City as a respected artist and gallery owner. Among the many pieces he collected over the years were fine examples of African art. Simpson also was an accomplished musician who played saxophone and other reed instruments. He died March 9, 2013 at age 84.

Of 99 pieces to be auctioned Saturday, 40 are original works by Simpson and 59 are by other artists, including one by Halsey which was a gift he gave to Simpson. The auction will include an online component for anyone interested in bidding who can’t attend in person.

Carlton Simpson, 36, said earnings from the auction of his uncle’s collection will help pay some debts. Merton Simpson died with little wealth except for the artwork he had made or acquired over the years. He could not be buried right away because of financial problems. He was finally laid to rest March 29 at St. Peter Cemetery on Spruill Avenue in North Charleston, thanks to funding provided by the New York-based Artists Fellowship, a charitable foundation “that assists professional fine artists and their families in times of emergency, disability or bereavement.”

Quinn Auction has conducted two previous sales of Simpson’s African tribal art. This auction will be the third, with one more planned, Quinn said.

For more information, go to www.quinnsauction.com.

Matthew Quinn

Quinn’s Auction Galleries

360 S Washington Street

Falls Church, Virginia 22046

(703) 532-5632 x503 Gallery

(703) 608-7676 Mobile



100 pieces. 99 items. 40 his, 59 by others that he owned, 7 by other black artists.

Represents all of the works not by him in his collection.

Gibbes Museum pieces, College of Charleston

Halsey work gift to Merton.


Estimated $200,000-300,000

Expect good turn out.

These are his better pieces.

Also online.

Single-genre sale, 100 lot.

State of NY working with the family and estate to close the estate. QUinns has really build our reputation on national level for being comprehensive about what we do.

Looked at every single object.

Sold two tribal art, one more to go.

Testament to a legacy.

Mert was a guy who was inveting his money and reinvesting his money. His assets were his inventiroy, his collection.

Cash poor. Not surprising.

Gonna be an interesting day.


Carlton Simpson, nephew, 36



Public admin and her attorney of the estate spearheading this.

Have to go in front of a judge.

Some debts have to be paid. But expect some money left over.

Family members will get

Me father a dn two sons.

1938, 79 in april.

Carl, dad.

Bronze plaque, 300 years old, British Museum. Came from Africa. 1897 British invaded Benin, burnt down palace and took bronze plates. 200 of these. 150 still on display at British Museum.

In 1960s, Nigeria wanted to sell them, sent 10 to NYC, 6 ended up with Merton Simpson.