A painting by famous Chinese artist Zhang Daqian was set to sell at a Sotheby's auction house today in Hong Kong. But the sale was stopped after a Taiwanese nun claimed that the piece belonged to her family.
Lu Chieh-chien filed a writ against the auction house with the Hong Kong High Court saying that it had been given to her father, who was a friend of the artist.
[Lu Chieh-Chien, Claimant of $ 1.6mChinese Painting]:
"In 1950 Zhang Daqian gifted this to his friend. The friend's named on the painting Gen-guan was my father's name."
The painting, called "Riding in the Autumn Countryside" was estimated to sell for $1.6 million. Zhang Daqian is one of the most prestigious painters of the 20th century. He brought in more auction revenue than any other artist in 2011.
But the Buddhist nun says her claim is not about sentimentality or fame, she just wants the painting returned to its rightful owner.
[Lu Chieh-Chien, Claimant of $1.6M Chinese Painting]:
"Although as a nun, I don't think about sentimentalities like those between friends, or those between a father and daughter, this was more about justice. I did not ask anyone to auction this painting, I really want to find out how it ended up there."
Lu said the painting was given to her as a wedding present by her father, but when she took up the robe, she entrusted it to her brother. According to the South China Morning Post her brother left it in the hands of an employee, who she has asked to account for its whereabouts.
[Lu Chieh-Chien, Claimant of $ 1.6m Chinese Painting]
"The most heartbreaking thing for me was that, when I saw the painting again, it was reframed. The original frame was done specifically for Chinese painting. Now with the new frame, the painting has lost its spirit, it's lost its life and looks very stark."
Sotheby's has said it will not sell the famous art piece until the ownership claims are resolved.
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