Christie’s will sell the majority of I.M. Pei’s renowned art collection.
Architect I.M. Pei stands beside the tip of the Louvre's inverted pyramid in the Galleries of the Carrousel. Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images.
Christie’s has won on consignment the majority of the art collection of renowned architect I.M. Pei and his wife Eileen and will take the collection to auction later this year. The 59 works are worth over $25 million and feature both Eastern and Western artists, including Barnett Newman, Jean Dubuffet, and Zao Wou-Ki.
Before being sold in New York and Hong Kong in November and Paris in December, the collection will embark on a world tour, making stops in Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles. and New York. Highlights from the collection include Dubuffet’s La Brouette, or The Wheelbarrow, estimated at €350,000 to 550,000 (around $388,500 to $610,500) and Newman’s Untitled 4, 1950 and Untitled 5, 1950, estimated at $8 million and $5 million, respectively.
The Peis fostered strong friendships with many of the artists whose works will be sold, highlighting the couple’s involvement with the international art community throughout their lifetimes. Liane Pei, daughter of the Peis, said in a statement:
My parents cherished these friendships. Even when these friends were far away, however, it never felt like that. We lived with their art every day and so they were always present. In that respect, I believe my parents could not have been happier, as they found inspiration in, and were always surrounded by, their treasured friends.
Pei is best known for his design of the Louvre’s glass pyramid, though he also designed the East Building of the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, among numerous other projects. In his youth, he encountered and was influenced by prominent European architects like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. He founded I.M. Pei & Associates in 1955, and won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983.
Pei died in May at the age of 102, while Eileen Pei, a student of art and landscape architecture, died in 2014. The couple was married for 72 years. Both of the Peis were born in China and maintained a strong connection to the country, reflected in the amount of Chinese art in their personal collection.
“The Pei name is one that resonates around the world, integrated into the landscape of the dozens of cities that feature a Pei-designed art museum, concert hall, university, hospital, office tower or civic building,” said Marc Porter, Christie’s chairman of the Americas.