There is controversy around one of the paintings in the Sotheby’s catalogue for the auction of Fine Chinese Paintings as one of Zhang Daqian’s (張大千, also Romanized Chang Dai-chien) paintings was reported stolen 30 years ago.
The painting “Glacial Mountains in the Mist” (春山雲瀑) was a gift to Zhang’s friend famed painter and teacher Huang Chun-pi (黃君璧, also Romanized as Huang Junbi) in 1969. Huang’s artwork will also be on auction in Hong Kong on October 7. The painting is reportedly valued at up to HK$38 million (NT$152 million, US$4.85 million).
Huang’s daughter Huang Hsiang-ling (黃湘詅) reported the painting stolen and contacted the auction house to remove it from the catalogue, according to UDN. She also contacted the Da’an District police last month to file a report. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office is seeking to locate the seller and bring charges against them. The painting was stolen from Huang’s Taipei residence in 1990, and the artist died the following year without having recovered the painting.
Zhang Daqian’s painting still appears in the Sotheby’s catalogue. Huang does not have a copy of the original police report to provide to the auction house to prevent the sale. “Glacial Mountains in the Mist” had been displayed at Taipei’s National Museum of History until March 1973.
Police have attempted to intervene on Huang’s behalf, visiting the Sotheby’s Taipei office on Keelung Road, ET Today reported. Sotheby’s said that it required formal police or court documents confirming that the artwork was stolen before it could remove it from auction.
Zhang Daqian, who was one of the best known 20th century Chinese painters and also known as Zhang Yuan, was born in Sichuan Province in southwest China and died in Taipei in 1983. He fled China in 1949 for South American locations before moving to California. He finally settled in Taipei in 1978.
In his lifetime, there were numerous forgeries of Zhang’s paintings sold. Zhang reportedly made millions off the sales of such forgeries.