Christie's has richest Asia Week

Updated: 2015-03-24 06:16

By By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Christie's has richest Asia Week

A rare Chinese doucai ovoid jar from the Yongzheng-Qianlong Period. The piece sold for $509,000 at a Christie's auction, part of the Robert Ellsworth Collection, one of the most important private American collections of Chinese art.[PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY BY CHRISTIE'S IMAGES]

Christie's had its biggest Asian Art Week sales ever, bringing in $161.1 million with the help of the sale of the Robert Ellsworth collection, one of the most prominent private American collections of Chinese art.

A five-day live auction series devoted to the Ellsworth collection brought in $131.7 million, far exceeding the $35 million pre-sale estimate from the auction house.

"This was an historic week for Christie's and for Asian art. The overwhelming response to the Ellsworth Collection, one of the greatest private collections ever assembled, was felt from the international tour to the exhibitions and in saleroom," said Marc Porter, chairman and president of Christie's Americas, in a March 21 statement.

"It was an honor to work with the Estate of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth who entrusted us with the sale, and the result of the collection so far is not only a testament to Mr. Ellsworth's unparalleled eye and diverse interests in art, but also the global team effort at Christie's," Porter said.

Christie's has richest Asia Week

Ellsworth, who died last year at the age of 85, was an American scholar who began his decades-long career as a collector in his early teens. As a boy, he worked at a gallery in Manhattan learning about Chinese art and eventually going on to write books on the subject. He influenced the tastes of many other American and European collectors. Ellsworth had a 22-room apartment near New York's Central Park, where he housed his acquisitions.

The first part of the collection featuring Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian works of art fetched $61.1 million; a second part featuring Chinese furniture, scholar's objects and Chinese paintings fetched $39.1 million. Ceramics, glass, and jade carvings made up a third part, bringing in $8.2 million.

A fourth part featuring metalwork, sculpture and early ceramics brought $15.8 million, and a fifth part with European and Asian art totaled $6.2 million. A final part featuring books from the Ellsworth collection fetched $1.2 million.

"For the last six months, the Christie's team has worked tirelessly to research, catalogue, and present this extraordinary group of objects," Porter said. "The reaction from our international clients has been unparalleled in its enthusiasm."

Jonathan Rendell, Christie's deputy chairman, previously told China Daily that the interest in the Ellsworth collection was unprecedented. The collection was available for public viewing in the week leading up to the first evening auction.

The gallery "was absolutely packed" with collectors and potential buyers, Rendell said. "It felt like there were planes being specially flown from the mainland to bring the collectors."

The auction series for the Ellsworth collection began on March 17 and finished on March 21, with a seventh part online only. Bidding for the online-only objects ends on Friday, and there already are competitive bids on all the available lots, according to Rendell.

The Julia and John Curtis Collection also was featured at Christie's for Asian Art Week. The 95-lot collection was curated by the Curtises over 35 years. Julia Curtis was known for having published extensively on Chinese porcelain production in the 17th century, and the collection showcased pieces from 17th century porcelain artists. The collection fetched $3.9 million.

There were two other auctions focused on Chinese art at Christie's: one on fine Chinese ceramics that totaled $16.9 million, and another on fine Chinese paintings that brought in almost $5 million.

The top item in the ceramics auction was a large enamel dragon jar and cover that sold for $2.5 million, and the top-selling item in the Chinese paintings sale was an early Ming Dynasty landscape ink piece that priced at $425,000.