Collecting stories

Joel Chen takes us through his rich and varied personal collections ahead of his Christie’s auction

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For the Los Angeles-based antiques dealer, Joel Chen, collecting has always been about personal taste. ‘I have absolutely no unity in my acquisitions. I just go around and see what I like,’ he says, adding, ‘The prime element would have to be the quality of workmanship.’

Chen’s liberated personal collection is due to be auctioned at Christie’s this month. More than 300 lots that span mid-century and contemporary design, Asian art, antiques and decorative objects will go on sale both online and at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre in New York.

As one of the most respected dealers in the US, Chen first traded Asian art and antiques in tribute to his Hong Kong heritage, before championing early modern design. He is a prolific collector of Ettore Sottsass’ work, and was a significant lender to the first US retrospective of the designer organised at LACMA in 2006.

Christie’s sale celebrates all of these highlights in Chen’s career. From 18th-century Chinese furniture, traditional porcelain and inlaid objects, to iconic pieces by major designers such as Finn Juhl, Carlo Mollino, Hans Wegner and Sottsass, the collection truly reflects the vibrancy of Chen’s keen eye.

JF Chen Collection,13 February at Christie’s New York, with online sale, 7-14 February

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