Sotheby’s is calling the 108 works in its April 9 sale in Hong Kong “the largest and most important collection of Chinese contemporary art ever to appear at auction,” according to the New York Times. The paintings, photographs, and sculptures are by artists particularly fashionable right now, among them Cai Guo-Qiang, Zeng Fanzhi, Ai Weiwei, Zhang Xiaogang, and Xu Bing. The art represents about half of what Michael Goedhuis, the Manhattan dealer who spent more than three years amassing the works for two collectors, named the Estella Collection. William Acquavella, the Manhattan dealer, bought the Estella Collection through Mr. Goedhuis in August. While none of the participants would discuss the specifics of the transaction, experts in the field say the price for the entire collection—more than 200 works—was more than $25 million. Sotheby’s will be offering the Estella Collection in two parts: the 108 works being sold in Hong Kong are expected to bring $8 million to $12 million; a second sale is planned for New York in September.
Among the highlights of the April sale are examples of the figurative painting style often called Cynical Realism. “Bloodline: The Big Family No. 3” (1995) is from Zhang Xiaogang’s series of paintings based on family photographs. This one, in which the central figure wears a Mao badge, is estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Another example of the style is “Chairman Mao With Us,” a 2005 painting by Zeng Fanzhi that depicts Mao with two children; it’s estimated at $347,000 to $555,000.
Mr. Goedhuis formed the collection for a small group of investors, including Sacha Lainovic, a director of Weight Watchers International, and Ray Debbane, chief executive of the private-equity firm the Invus Group. The investors had wanted to make the collection the basis of a book, but instead decided to sell it.