2014年10月18日 星期六

《 畫語錄:王季遷教你看懂書畫》:收藏家王季遷遺產紛爭未決







徐小虎《 畫語錄:王季遷教你看懂書畫》(C. C. Wang Reflects on Painting), 台北:典藏2013



*****

A Family Battles Over a Disappearing Trove of Chinese Paintings

旅美收藏家王季遷去世十年,遺產紛爭未決
GRAHAM BOWLEY 2014年10月17日
宗遺產爭奪案,已成為紐約持續時間最久的這類案件之一。
十多年來,王己千(CC Wang)的家人一直在爭奪一批世界一流的中國古畫和捲軸。王己千是一名收藏家,紐約大都會藝術博物館(Metropolitan Museum of Art)以他的名字命名了一間陳列室。
現在,宿怨進一步升級。王己千2003年過世,享年96歲,此後他的兩名子女一直在曼哈頓的遺囑檢驗法院(Surrogate's Court)爭奪遺產。過去一個月中,這兩名子女分別在州級法院和聯邦法院提起訴訟,指控對方存在劫掠和欺詐行為。
但是,在家庭紛爭之外,還有一個更大的問題令中國藝術領域的專家感到失望。一直以來,王己千藏品都是這些專家仰慕的對象。
法庭文件顯示,王己千遺產的價值超過6000萬美元(約合3.7億元人民幣)。然而,已有數十件,或許是數百件作品不知所踪,其中一幅11世紀的捲軸《朝元仙仗圖》,在中國被視為國寶。
“這事令人心碎,它就發生在這座城裡,”曾為蘇富比(Sotheby's)和佳士得(Christie's)工作的中國藝術類專家勞拉·B·惠特曼(Laura B. Whitman)說。王己千在世的時候,她會到他在紐約的公寓拜訪,觀看他的藏品。
誰理應擁有這批藏品?而這麼多藏品失踪究竟又是誰的錯?這些問題王家人已經爭執了十多年。
這宗案子已經變得如此復雜,費用如此高昂,以至於遺囑檢驗法院已暫停討論繼承問題,直到託管機構可以提供最初藏品的可靠清單,以便看看是否足夠支付律師費和欠其他債權人的債務。
目前,可以確定的事情寥寥無幾,其中之一是:王己千在收藏歷史名作上很有眼力。自他過世後,隨著中國藝術品市場的蓬勃發展,這些作品增值了很多倍。
1907年,王己千在中國蘇州附近出生。1949年,中國政局動盪期間,他移居美國,最終到曼哈頓定居,並在那裡教學、為蘇富比提供諮詢服務,以及買賣房地產和藝術品。紐約的中國藝術市場當時規模較小,而他成為了這個市場的領軍者,而他本人也是一位頗有建樹的藝術家。20世紀90年代末,大都會博物館從他的收藏中購買了大約60件作品,並以他名字為一間陳列室命名。
大都會從他那裡購得的作品之一,是一幅巨大的山水立軸《溪岸圖》,據稱為10世紀的畫家董源所作。不過,它後來引起了爭議,被一些學者宣稱是20世紀的偽作
大都會亞洲藝術部主任何慕文(Maxwell K. Hearn)表示,王己千的大部分重要收藏都是他一早購入的,當時中國藝術品市場尚未成形。
“這些作品一直都很重要,而他把它們視為藝術靈感的來源,”何慕文說。“現在,它們的價值已經變得非常高,因為人們開始認識到它們的文化意義,並認為他的收藏是對作品的一種認可。”
臨終前,王己千把藏品中的一部分留給女兒王嫻歌(Yien-Koo Wang King),另一部分則留給兒子王守昆(Shou-Kung Wang)。王嫻歌現年79歲,王守昆85歲,兩人均曾在不同時間段與父親關係親密,並擔任他的商業代理人。
但兩人為遺產,特別是兩份遺囑的真偽起了紛爭。其中一份立於2000年,指定王嫻歌為遺囑執行人;另一份則是在王己千過世前不久定立的,指定王守昆及其子王義強(Andrew Wang)為遺囑執行人,並剝奪了王嫻歌的繼承權。
在這場紛爭中,對於王己千身後留下的藏品中究竟有多少中國古畫,各方估計的數目存在很大的出入,從240至438幅不等。
加起來,自2003年以來,雙方一共交出了120多幅作品,供遺產託管機構出售。不過,他們還互相指責對方在美國、中國或其他地方藏匿了更多價值極高的畫作,規模遠超這一數字。
根據美國國稅局(Internal Revenue Service)掌握的一份清單,它要徵收逾2000萬美元的遺產稅。這張清單列出了王己千過世時的畫作、房地產和其他類型的財產,不過這筆稅涉及的一些畫作現在很可能已經失​​踪。
遺產稅和律師費,遠遠超出了遺產託管機構持有並存放在新澤西州一間倉庫裡的為數不多的剩餘藏品的價值。因此,遺囑檢驗法院決定該案不值得繼續審理,除非所涉財產進行了恰當清點。
雙方新近採取的法律行動,目的是打破這種僵局。王嫻歌和她的丈夫肯尼斯(Kenneth)上月聯名向駐曼哈頓的聯邦法院提起訴訟,稱王守昆及其子合謀偽造藝術品銷售記錄,從而劫掠遺產,並且謊報藏品下落。
王嫻歌在訴狀中稱,王守昆現年53歲的兒子王義強偽造買家地址,有一次甚至把價值140萬美元的藝術品運到他在上海的家中。王義強和遺囑檢驗法院的公共管理者共同對這筆遺產負有託管責任。
訴狀中還指責王守昆和王義強對13世紀畫家馬遠所作的《山水冊》的下落說法不一。十年前,王守昆告訴法院,這幅畫是父親給他的,屬於他的財產。
不過,王嫻歌的律師拿出了2011年在中國播放的一段電視採訪,其中顯示,有藏家說,在王己千過世後,自己從王家人手中買到了這幅畫。律師表示,這幅畫的價格逾550萬美元。
近期在庭上被問及此事時,王義強解釋,實際上是祖父在過世之前不久出售了這幅畫,但王守昆當年在作證的時候,認為自己仍然擁有這幅畫,因為王義強和王己千沒有把此畫已經出售的事情告訴他。
皇后區凱撒劉瑛律師樓(Liu & Shields)的卡羅琳·希爾茲(Carolyn Shields)是王守昆和王義強的律師團隊成員,她否認了王嫻歌的指控。
上週,王守昆父子這邊也向位於曼哈頓的州級最高法院提起訴訟,聲稱王嫻歌夫婦把作品藏匿在紐約一間倉庫中,並把它們的所有權轉移給外國企業或予以出售,通過這種方式轉移了資產。
雙方沒有異議的事情寥寥無幾,其中一件是:最重要的藏品之一、絹本墨筆捲軸《朝元仙仗圖》不知所踪。
這幅圖很可能是一幅壁畫稿本,以繁複的細節描繪了一群道教神仙。專家表示,它是北宋早期的道教題材作品,頗為罕見。
“它具有極為重大的意義,”洛杉磯城市藝術博物館(Los Angeles County Museum of Art)的中國藝術類策展人斯蒂芬·利特爾(Stephen Little)說。
該畫為武宗元所繪,專家估計它的價值數以千萬美元計。
2005年,雙方把《朝元仙仗圖》放入上海一家銀行的保險箱。這個箱子只能在雙方均在場的情況下才能再次打開。
聽說有人在銀行外面看到了《朝元仙仗圖》後,王嫻歌要求王義強和她一同前去打開保險箱進行核實。然而,根據她的說法,王義強對中國法院的判令置之不理,拒絕到場。
王嫻歌說,2009年保險箱打開時,結果令人失望。珍貴的原作不見了,箱內只有一個褪了色的廉價捲軸印刷品。曼哈頓律師薩姆·P·伊斯雷爾(Sam P. Israel)稱,她向上海警方報告了這起盜竊案,但警方說這是家務事,拒絕進行調查。王守昆和王義強則稱,沒有人告訴他們箱子將會被打開,暗示王嫻歌以某種方式偷走了捲軸。
五年後的今天,它仍然下落不明。
“這樣的畫作流落在外,沒人看,沒人愛惜,沒人欣賞,真是一想到就難過,”惠特曼說。
翻譯:土土
It has evolved into one of New York’s longest-running fights over an estate.
For more than a decade, the family of C. C. Wang, a collector whose name graces a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been battling over a trove of classical Chinese paintings and scrolls that has been described as among the finest in the world.
Now, the feud has escalated. In the past month, two of Mr. Wang’s children, who have been fighting in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan since his death in 2003at 96, filed lawsuits in state and federal courts accusing each other of looting and deceit.
But beyond the family strife, a broader issue is dismaying Chinese-art experts for whom the Wang collection has long been a source of wonder.
Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of works from an estate once valued in court papers at more than $60 million have gone missing, including an 11th-century scroll, “The Procession of Taoist Immortals,” that is viewed in China as a national treasure.
“This is heartbreaking, and it is happening right here in the city,” said Laura B. Whitman, a specialist in Chinese art formerly with Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who used to visit Mr. Wang at his apartment in New York to view his collection.
Divining who rightfully owns these works, and who is to blame for the disappearance of so many of them, has consumed the family for more than a decade.
The case has become so complex, and so expensive, that the Surrogate’s Court has suspended discussing matters of inheritance until it can come up with a reliable inventory of what was initially in the collection to see if the estate will be able to pay lawyers and other creditors.
Among the few certainties at this point is that Mr. Wang demonstrated the ability to acquire objects of historical importance, objects that since his death have increased many times in value as the Chinese art market has boomed.
Born near Suzhou, China, in 1907, he moved to the United States during China’s political upheavals in 1949, settling in Manhattan, where he built a career teaching, consulting at Sotheby’s, and dealing in real estate and in art. He became the dean of the rarefied market for Chinese art in New York and was an accomplished artist in his own right. By the end of the 1990s, the Met had bought some 60 works that were once part of his collection and named a gallery in his honor.
Among the Met acquisitions was a colossal hanging scroll titled “Riverbank,” attributed to the 10th-century painter Dong Yuan, but which attracted its own controversy after some scholars declared it a 20th-century forgery.
Maxwell K. Hearn, chairman of the Met’s Asian art department, said Mr. Wang acquired much of his important collection early on, when the market for Chinese art didn’t exist.
“He saw their continued relevance as sources of artistic inspiration,” Mr. Hearn said. “Now, they have become enormously valuable, because people are recognizing their cultural significance and acknowledge him as a source of validation.”
Before his death, Mr. Wang left some works to his daughter Yien-Koo Wang King, now 79, and some to his son, Shou-Kung Wang, now 85, both of whom served during different periods as confidant and business agent to their father.
But they have battled over the legacy, particularly the validity of a 2000 will that listed Mrs. King as executor and of a competing will, drawn up shortly before Mr. Wang’s death, that named Shou-Kung Wang’s son, Andrew, as executor, and disinherited Mrs. King.
Amid the fighting, estimates differ widely about how many classical Chinese paintings were in Mr. Wang’s collection when he died, from about 240 to 438.
Together, since 2003, the son and daughter have surrendered more than 120 artworks to the estate for sale, but have also accused each other of hiding many more of the most valuable paintings in the United States, in China or elsewhere.
The Internal Revenue Service is seeking more than $20 million in estate taxes, based on its own inventory of paintings, real estate and other possessions at the time of death, though that fee is based on a valuation of some paintings that may well now be missing.
The tax bill and claims for lawyers’ fees so outweigh the value of the handful of remaining classical works held by the estate in a warehouse in New Jersey that the Surrogate’s Court decided it was not worth proceeding until a proper accounting can be made.
The latest legal actions are an effort to break the deadlock. In a filing in federal court in Manhattan last month, Mrs. King and her husband, Kenneth, said that her brother and his son had conspired to loot the estate through sham art sales and had lied about the whereabouts of works.
Mrs. King said in her filing that Shou-Kung Wang’s son, Andrew Wang, 53, who shares fiduciary duty for the estate with the public administrator of Surrogate’s Court, made up bogus addresses of buyers, and even, in one case, shipped $1.4 million worth of the art to his home in Shanghai.
The lawsuit also accuses the Wangs of giving conflicting accounts of the location of one work, “Album of Landscapes” by the 13th-century painter Ma Yuan. A decade ago, Shou-Kung Wang told the court that his father had given him the painting and it was in his possession.
But lawyers for Mrs. King have produced a 2011 television interview in China in which a collector there says he bought the painting from C. C. Wang’s family after his death, for what the lawyers say was more than $5.5 million.
Asked recently in court about the discrepancy, Andrew Wang said that his grandfather had in fact sold the painting shortly before he died. He said Shou-Kung Wang had believed that he still owned the painting at the time of his testimony because Andrew and C. C. Wang had concealed the sale.
A lawyer for Shou-Kung Wang and Andrew Wang, Carolyn Shields of Liu & Shields in Queens, denied Mrs. King’s allegations.
For their part, they argue in a lawsuit filed last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that it was the Kings who have diverted assets by hiding works in a warehouse in New York, transferring ownership of them to foreign corporations and selling them.
One of the few things the two sides agree on is that “The Procession of Taoist Immortals,” an ink-on-silk hand scroll that is one of the most important works in the collection, is missing.
Probably a sketch for a mural painting, it depicts a group of Taoist gods in intricate detail. Experts say it is an early and rare example from the Northern Song dynasty of a Taoist theme.
“It is of monumental significance,” said Stephen Little, a curator of Chinese art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Attributed to Wu Zongyuan, it is valued by experts at tens of millions of dollars.
In 2005, both sides put “Procession” in a Shanghai bank’s safe-deposit box. The box was to be opened again only in the presence of both sides.
Hearing reports that “Procession” had been seen outside the bank, Mrs. King demanded that Andrew Wang open the box to inspect the painting with her, but, according to her complaint, he defied a Chinese court order and refused to attend.
When the box was opened in 2009, the result was disappointing, she said. Instead of a treasure, the box contained a cheap, discolored print of the scroll. The theft was reported to the Shanghai police, who declined to investigate what they called a family matter, said a lawyer for the Kings, Sam P. Israel of Manhattan. Shou-Kung Wang and Andrew Wang said they were never told the box was going to be opened and suggest that Mrs. King somehow stole the scroll.
Five years later, its whereabouts remains unknown.
“To think that something like that is out there and is not being seen and preserved and appreciated by humanity is just sad,” Ms. Whitman said.



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