Christie’s to auction off items from Peis’ personal collection


Christie’s won on consignment the majority of art architect IM Pei and his wife, Eileen, have collected throughout their lifetimes, including works by Barnett Newman, Jean Dubuffet, Zao Wou-Ki and others. The collection expected to be auctioned in November and december after a world tour, and Christie’s expects the works to fetch more than $ 25 million.

Before he died in May at the age of 102, Mr. Pei designed buildings around the world, including the Louvre Glass Pyramid, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Museum of Islamic art from Qatar. The Peis has developed close friendships with artists, architects, gallery owners and museum directors during their 72-year marriage. These relationships, along with Ms. Pei’s keen curatorial skills – she studied landscape art and architecture – enabled them to develop a sophisticated private collection. She died in 2014.

“Many collectors have advisers who put together an excellent and diverse collection of art that interests them, which represents a certain period of work”, one of the the couple’s sons, Li Chung Pei, known as Sandi, said in a telephone interview. “In my parents’ case, they were all people they knew. They were people they were associated with, people they were friends with. And as a result, many of these pieces were given to them by the artist, which makes the collection very, very special and very personal.

The 59-piece collection includes two works by Color Field painter Barnett Newman, which were gifts from the artist’s wife, Annalee. The works “Untitled 4, 1950” and “Untitled 5, 1950” are part of a series of paintings, some of which are in museum collections. The entire work also includes sculptures and paintings by French artist Jean Dubuffet, who was a close friend of the couple.

The collection also reflects the Pei’s connection to China, where Mr. and Mrs. Pei were born. Another family friend was Franco-Chinese artist Zao Wou-Ki, and two of his paintings will be included in the sale. The collection also includes a hanging scroll by Chinese artist Zhang Daqian.

The masterpieces of the collection of these artists, as well as pieces by Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Franz Kline and others will be exhibited in Paris from September 13 to 17; then Hong Kong and Los Angeles in October. The entire collection will be presented in New York in early November. Auctions of the works will take place in New York and Hong Kong in November and in Paris in December.

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