Fugitive billionaire Joseph Lau will auction millions worth of art and wine to make up for stock market losses
Billionaire art collector Joseph Lau, who is living as a fugitive in Hong Kong after his 2014 conviction for bribery and money laundering in Macau, is selling artwork and bottles of wine through Christie’s and Sotheby’s that could fetch cash millions of dollars.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong is offering eight pieces of Chinese imperial porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties in a sale titled ‘Gems of Imperial Porcelain from the Private Collection of Joseph Lau’ that is expected to fetch up to HK$151 million ($19 million) on April 29.
“The name of Joseph Lau resonates with collectors around the world and he is the one who represents excellence,” said Nicolas Chow, president of Sotheby’s Asia, in a statement, adding that Lau had built “one of the most beautiful collections of Chinese porcelain of all times”.
Christie’s, meanwhile, is planning “Iconic Wines From Joseph Lau” for April 13, which is expected to include 89 lots with an estimated total value of more than HK$24 million ($3 million), the Daily Beast reports.
“Each bottle selected is a testament to my thought, care and dedication to collecting only the most impeccable and rare wines, and I look forward to sharing my top favorites with sophisticated palates around the world in April” , Lau said in a statement.
The decision to boost sales is prompted by Lau’s recent stock market losses, according to the South China Morning Post. His family company, Chinese Estates Holdings, sold more than 630 million shares of China Evergrande last year, losing billions in the process.
However, Forbes estimates Lau’s current net worth at $13.6 billion, which places him sixth on the list of the richest in Hong Kong. About $1 billion of that total is believed to come from Lau’s art collection, which includes works by Andy Warhol, Paul Gauguin and David Hockney.
Lau was sentenced in absentia in Macua for bribery and money laundering in 2014. But because the city has no extradition agreement with Hong Kong, where he lives, he never served his prison sentence. five years.
When asked if the auction house had any concerns about Lau’s illegal use of auction proceeds, a Christie’s representative told Artnet News, “Christie’s is committed to complying with the laws and to take all reasonable steps to prevent our operations from being used unlawfully. KYC (Know Your Client) is a key part of our policies. This involves collecting, verifying and maintaining records of all customers’ identities.
Sotheby’s did not respond to inquiries from Artnet News.
Lau, who made his fortune in real estate, started collecting in 1978, when he was just 27 years old. His holdings range from antique furniture and precious stones to paintings and sculptures.
In 2020, Lau parted ways with Hockney’s California pool painting The splash (1966) at Sotheby’s London. The result was disappointing, with just two bids before work began for £23.1 million ($30 million), slightly above the guaranteed low estimate of £20 million ($26 million). dollars).
The sales of his cellars were more successful. In October 2020, a sold-out bid came in at HK$53 million ($6.8 million), above its high estimate. The second part of the sale followed in April 2021, with another high-profile result totaling HK$52.6 million ($6.8 million).
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