Auction with a Chinese heart

By Deng Zhangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-12-23 07:54:56

Auction with a Chinese heart

A piece of porcelain in his collection. [Photo/China Daily]

For years, Ellsworth had bought and sold countless antique objects. But the ones he kept at his houses were those he wanted to live with. "If you don't want to stay with your collections day and night, then don't buy them," he advised prospective collectors.

Xiang Liping, a TV program producer in China, recalled that when he met the great Chinese art collector at his museum-like house in 2011, Ellsworth kept caressing a pi xiu in his hands. The pi xiu is one of the four mythical creatures in ancient China, including the dragon and phoenix. Ellsworth treated the pi xiu like a pet dog. He told Xiang all his collections were his pets.

"When I tell my friends that Ellsworth's collection is going to be auctioned at Christie's, they all say it's a must-go auction. There were no other chances to buy such rare art objects collected by a Western collector," says Xiang.

In the 20th century, many treasured Chinese antiques and artworks were lost during war times. Ellsworth was one of the first Western collectors to seek them out and became an expert and scholar on Chinese art.

Many see the auction of Ellsworth's collection as the end of an era of such Western collectors.

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