Largest collection of Asian art ever seen at auction comes to Christie's

The largest art collection ever brought to auction will be sold by Christie's New York in March 2015 in a series of landmark exhibitions and special auctions.

The interior of Ellsworth's apartment, which he used as a base for his dealership, became a hub for Asian art scholars, collectors and enthusiasts

The Robert Ellsworth collection will be sold over five days as part of Asia Week New York - the premier event for collectors in the field. It offers Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian works, with an additional offering of fine European furniture.

Ellsworth (d. August 2014) is renowned as one of the greatest scholars of Asian art, opening up new areas of collecting to western audiences. A dealer and collector, Ellsworth's 22-room Manhattan residence played host to his personal collection, filled with treasures from across the continent.

He was the first American art dealer granted access to mainland China in the 1970s, and was responsible for supplying some of the top collections of Asian art in the US, including that of John D Rockefeller.

Ellsworth was also only the fourth man to become an honorary citizen of China since 1949, awarded the title in 1993 in recognition of his work.

Some of Ellsworth's modern Chinese painting and calligraphy can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, following a donation of 471 works in 1985.

"My holdings will be sold in a consecutive seven-day sale. The last lot will be a single item, the finest piece of jade in the world - which I wear on my finger," Ellsworth told the Independent newspaper back in 1994.

Ellsworth's ring is described as a gold piece with a huge green jade stone set into it, but Christie's has not revealed whether it will, in fact, be the highlight of the auction series.

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