The late David Tang, bon vivant, entrepreneur extraordinaire and Financial Times columnist, was an avid collector in every sense of the word. He kept multiple homes, clubs and restaurants around the world, which he filled with art and all manner of splendid things. Now fans of the FT’s former Agony Uncle can own a part of his unique and rarefied world, as a forthcoming Christie’s London sale (on Wednesday January 31) will feature valuable pieces from David and Lucy Tang’s collection.
The 74 lots to go under the hammer are truly reflective of the couple’s discerning and famously eclectic tastes, as a selection of furniture spanning three centuries testifies: from a classical 1795 directoire mahogany commode (estimate £1,200-£1,800) to a chic midcentury cabinet in satin-birch and white lacquer (£500-£800).
Art lovers can secure a number of works, including 19th-century colonial-style hunting scenes (from £700) and portraits of Indian rulers dressed in their finery (from £2,000), plus a rare Noël Coward work (£4,000-£6,000) and a David Bowie ink portrait (£3,000-£5,000) created by Adrian George for The Sunday Times in 1983.
But it’s the inclusion of pieces by Tang’s long-time friend Tracey Emin that is expected to cause a buzz at the auction. Bid for the YBA artist’s embroidered linen napkin My Heart Is With You Always (£1,000-£2,000), her collection of rabbit and squirrel lithographs (£800-£1,200) and the blue watercolour nude Happy With You (£8,000-£12,000). All three treasures were gifts from Emin to Tang and form part of a trove of edgier works represented at the sale that also includes a funky c1982 ink and crayon on paper by the late American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (£30,000-£50,000).
Those with an eye for the more grandiose can find an array of chandeliers (from £600), fine floor and table lamps, French fin-de-siècle gilt-bronze photo frames (£1,200-£1,800) and a pair of Nicky Haslam rugs (£800-£1,200).
Tang was an outspoken commentator on luxury brands – both in his columns and in person – and it’s telling which grand maisons met with his approval. He was clearly a fan of Globe-Trotter and Goyard – and several of the suitcases in the sale (£1,000-£1,500) are elegantly monogrammed. There’s also a covetable collection of desk clocks and watches: the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American driving watch (c2011, £8,000-£12,000), its off-centre dial coveted by horology and auto enthusiast alike, is definitely a piece to look out for. Other gems include an asymmetrical Cartier Tank (£2,000-£3,000), a limited edition Omega Seamaster – commemorating the Beijing Olympics (£2,000-£3,000) – and a racy, red-dialled Chopard chronograph watch (£1,000-£1,500) from the Mille Miglia classic-car rally. In fact, the auction is more than a sale – it is a snapshot of the inspirational and well-lived life of an FT legend.