Zhang Daqian Legacy Causes Conflict in Family of Friend and Collector

Zhang Daqian Kao Ling mai  Zhang Daqian Legacy Causes Conflict in Family of Friend and Collector

Two brothers in Hong Kong—along with their 9 other siblings—have been embroiled in conflict over the proceeds of their father’s estate. The father was a well-known photographer who was close friends with Zhang Daqian and eventually become an art dealer.

With the explosion in value for Zhang Daqian’s work, the estate has recently yielded tens of millions of dollars. But the siblings argue, in that age old complaint, that John Kao has not been sharing the proceeds, according to the South China Morning Post:

Kao Ling-mai died in 1993. Before his death, he had more than 120 artworks classified under a “special collection” and over 100 others by Zhang and other famous artists, the writ stated. […]

They eventually reached a settlement, agreeing for the property and all their father’s paintings and calligraphies to be distributed equally among the 11 siblings and their families. The “special collection” would be publicly auctioned by Sotheby’s, and thereafter, the proceeds similarly distributed.

But in his writ, Winston Kao claimed John Kao “wrongfully” withheld HK$ 33 million from him, paying him only HK$ 22.8 million. He said Sotheby’s had in May last year sold 25 “special collection” items for a total of HK$ 626 million after deducting expenses.

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