Breaking News


Sotheby’s Pulls $1.6 Million Work Challenged by Nun

Sotheby’s (BID) said it has withdrawn a 20th-century Chinese painting valued at as much as HK$12.8 million ($1.65 million) after a Taiwanese Buddhist nun challenged its ownership.

Sotheby’s made the last-minute decision after receiving a writ in Hong Kong on Oct. 6 on behalf of 60-year-old Lu Chieh- Chien, requesting a court hearing to prevent the sale.

The 1950 ink and color on paper painting entitled “Riding in the Autumn Countryside” by Zhang Daqian had been consigned for sale on Oct. 8 by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong by a Taiwanese client.

“Sotheby’s takes issues of title seriously,” Kevin Ching chief executive officer of Sotheby’s Asia said today. “We will not sell anything that we cannot be sure that we can pass good title to, and therefore we are withdrawing the lot.”

Lu claimed she had received the painting as a wedding gift in 1983, later entrusting it to her brother after joining a monastery. Her brother then moved to Shanghai leaving the work behind in Taiwan with an employee for safekeeping, Ching said.

The South China Morning Post identified the employee as Shu Dun-sie. Sotheby’s declined to say whether he was the consignor of the work because of company policy to keep client information confidential.

The painting by Zhang, one of the best-selling 20th century Chinese artists, was valued as the most expensive work among more than 320 lots offered for sale in Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Paintings sale.

In May 2011, Sotheby’s sold 25 works by Zhang worth HK$681 million, including a painting that fetched a record HK$191 million.

Muse highlights include Robert Heller on rock, Martin Gayford on art, Warwick Thompson on London stage and Ryan Sutton on food.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.