Chinese-born, French-naturalized artist Zao Wou-ki died on April 9 2013 in Switzerland. Less than one months later, his family members, his third wife Françoise Marquet and his son from the first marriage Jia Ling Zhao, are already fighting over control of his art and estate. Specifically, they are seeking guardianship of his unsold paintings, estimated worth in excess of 500 million Euros.
As a victorious gladiator whose triumph would be feted with “Die Now!” chant from the spectators, at the time of his death, Zao Wou-ki, 93 and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, was the highest selling living Chinese artist. He passed away three days after setting a record by selling one of his paintings for $4.7 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction on April 6, 2013.
Given that Zao Wou-ki was one of the best known and most prolific contemporary Chinese artists; clearly control of his estate is worth the fight.