Very few couples in the world truly appreciated the arts as Eileen and Ieoh Ming Pei did, which explains the expansive collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and works on paper that they left behind. But to them, it was not about the size of the collection or the value (which is expected to exceed $25 million); but the process. Eileen Pei (nee Loo) had the eye of a curator, and the couple only purchased artwork that truly spoke to them, according to the Peis’ daughter Liane.

I.M. and Eileen Pei in their home, New York, circa 1970s. Photo: Dennis Brack / Black Star.
I.M. and Eileen Pei in their home, New York, circa 1970s. Photo: Dennis Brack / Black Star.

The Peis had two homes; their primary residence in Manhattan along with a country retreat in Katonah, 65 kilometres north. Both these homes were tastefully filled with art by the likes of Jean Dubuffet, Barnett Newman, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Franz Kline, Zhang Daqian, Qi Baishi, Willem de Kooning, Xu Shiqi and Isamu Noguchi. While the Peis had a lot of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art; they were supporters of artists of their own heritage and also possessed Asian 20th Century Art and Chinese Paintings.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), 27.3.70, 1970.
Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), 27.3.70, 1970.

While both Eileen and Ieoh came from influential families, I.M. Pei’s work gained him skyrocketing fame of his own, with projects like the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. And with such affluence, the Peis maintained several friendships with highly renowned individuals of the art community out of sheer respect and adoration. The Pei children would call Zao Wou-ki “uncle”, Barnett Newman’s wife Annalee was loved as a grandmother, while many of Jean Dubuffet’s works were personally inscribed to the family.

Li Keran (1907-1989), Pine, dedicated to I.M. Pei on his 62nd birthday, dated 1979.
Li Keran (1907-1989), Pine, dedicated to I.M. Pei on his 62nd birthday, dated 1979.

The collection will be previewed in Paris on September 13-17th, in Hong Kong on October 3-6th, in Los Angeles on October 15-17th and in New York from October 1st to 13th. The auctions will take place based on the categories that the work has been divided in. In New York, Impressionist & Modern Art will be auctioned on November 12th and Post-War & Contemporary Art on November 13th and 14th. Hong Kong’s auction for Asian 20th Century Art will take place on November 23rd and 24th, Fine Chinese Paintings on November 25th (Classical) and 26th (Modern), and the online sale of Fine Chinese Paintings between November 18th and 25th. Paris’ auction will focus on Post-War & Contemporary Art, and will be conducted on December 3rd and 4th.

Eileen and I.M. Pei at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2009-2010. Photo: Frédéric REGLAIN / DIVERGENCE
Eileen and I.M. Pei at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2009-2010. Photo: Frédéric REGLAIN / DIVERGENCE

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