NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) — A vast collection of historical Chinese art including more than 120 artifacts from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is expected to fetch at least $23 million next week at Sotheby’s.
The seven live auctions, which include 1,200 items, kick off on Saturday and coincide with Asia Week New York 2019, Christina Walker, director of Asian Art and Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s, said Friday.
The auctions are expected to draw buyers from around the world. Collectors from China could be major players, according to Phyllis Kao, a Chinese art specialist at the auction house.
“They’re very important,” Kao told UPI. “A lot of the main players are mainland Chinese buyers. A lot of the winning bidders are really driving the price of art.”
Kao said as China has witnessed a massive rise in private wealth, the newly rich in the world’s second-largest economy are a “lot more interested in studying their own culture.”
The art on sale next week covers all major historical Chinese periods. Kao said collectors for the most part let their personal tastes dictate their purchases.
Bidders will have a wide range of art — paintings, calligraphy, sculpture — to choose from, a collection that includes an “exceptionally rare” gilt-lacquer wood figure of Buddhist deities, the Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara and Consort, dating from the 15th century Xuande period. The figures envelope each other in “Tantric form,” symbolizing the “union of Wisdom and Compassion.”
Kao said X-rays show scrolls are lodged inside the wood figure, and that the sculpture includes a kartrika, or ritual knife, in the hand of one of the two figures.
“It’s freely moving in her hand,” she said. “To have that survived for 600 years, is so amazing.”
The gilded figure is one of the most expensive objects to go on sale and is expected to fetch as much as $1.5 million. It’s a “bargain,” Kao said — using past sales of similar art as benchmarks.
A separate collection of art, gifted by U.S….