Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection Doubles the High Estimate, Achieving $32.2 Million
NEW YORK, 14 September 2016 – The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings, one of the finest American collections remaining in private hands, saw a flurry of bidding tonight in Sotheby’s New York’s inaugural evening sale of Classical Chinese Paintings. Private collectors and institutions, from the United States and beyond, eagerly bid for works of art that had remained off the market for as many as fifty years. With 92 of 122 lots selling above their high estimate – some fetching over ten times their estimates and many of which set records – the sale totaled $32,245,375 (estimate $10,227,000/15,502,000).
Harry Papp commented: “I hope that these paintings bring as much joy to their new owners as they did to my parents. The collection was one of their great passions, and seeing it shared with so many visitors to the beautiful exhibition and hundreds of bidders in the sale would have brought them great joy.”
Rongde Zhang, Head of Sale of Chinese Classical Paintings Department, New York noted: “Tonight’s extraordinary result leaves no doubt that the Papp Collection stands as one of the finest private American collections of Chinese paintings ever assembled. With over three hundred bidders competing for 122 lots for over 4 hours, driving a total that doubled the high estimate, the sale now stands as one of the defining events in our field. Roy and Marilyn Papp were gloriously representative of the open-minded collecting style of Americans in the mid-20th Century which, coupled with their generosity to institutions both in Phoenix and further afield, continues to inspire academics and collectors today.”
Roy and Marilyn Papp began collecting Chinese Paintings in the 1960s. Beginning with a mere interest for Chinese Paintings and their elegance and expressionism, they developed their collecting habits into a passion, educating themselves along the way with guidance from experts in the field including Claudia Brown of the Phoenix Art Museum, Ju-shi Chou of Arizona State University and Howard Rogers, a renowned art dealer. The resulting collection, half of which was auctioned this evening with the remainder gifted to the Phoenix Art Museum, is a high-quality survey of schools, styles and formats with established provenance and significant exhibition history.
Greeting visitors at the entrance to the 10th floor galleries was The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Section of Scroll VI. Fawned over by thousands of visitors during the exhibition, this section of Scroll VI, the longest and best preserved, sold to applause for $9,546,000 following a fifteen-minute bidding war on the telephones and in the room (estimate $4/6 million). Of the twelve scrolls commemorating the Kangxi Emperor’s visits to economic and strategic sites in the southern regions of China, ten are housed in institutions around the world and one remains unseen for decades.
The energy and enthusiasm in the sales room this evening was not limited to The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour. Wang Yuanqi’s Landscape of Yushan, an ink on paper hanging scroll, saw as many as seven bidders. Following lively jump bidding, collectors continued to compete until it finally sold to a telephone bidder for $2,110,000 (estimate $350/550,000). Shen Zhou’s Enjoying the Mid-Autumn Moon in the Bamboo Villa also achieved a noteworthy price. Estimated at $1.8/2.5 million, this two part handscroll, beautifully merged a painting of three men seated beside a riverbank with a heartfelt poem about the mid-Autumn Festival composed and written by the artist in calligraphy, sold for $2,170,000.
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