The Maitri Collection: Buddhist Sculptures Offered by a Humble, Friendly Collector

Bonhams held a special evening dedicated to the Maitri Collection on 20 March, offering more than 40 paintings and sculptures. Leading the sale were three Buddhist sculptures, each sold for prices exceeding their high estimates.

‘Maitri’, a Sanskrit term meaning friendliness, good-will, loving kindness, and benevolence-personified. Maitri is regarded as the first of four sublime Buddhist virtues (brahmaviharas), alongside compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity.

The Maitri Collection’s owner humbly declined being called a ‘collector’ and therefore named his collection 'Maitri'. Each piece in The Maitri Collection is ever a reminder to its owner of the principles of affability and generosity that he holds dear and that have served him well throughout life.

The top lot at the sale was a Gilt Copper Figure of Manjushri Namasangiti, from 13th-14th century Nepal, carrying an estimate of US$250,000 - 350,000. Manjushri Namasangiti is one of the most important deities within the Newari Buddhist tradition of the Kathmandu Valley. His multi-armed form as Namansangiti here is a metaphor for his cosmic portent, providing him with six arms to represent each of the five Buddha families and Vajrasattva. The figure sold for US$672,500 (premium included), double its estimate.

A Copper Alloy Figure of Dancing Krishna from Tamil Nadu, Chola Dynasty, circa 12th century, depicts his most popular form in South India – as a young dancing boy. His outstretched left arm provides a counterbalance to his upraised right foot, prompting the eye to trace the contours of his torso and thighs, and rejoice maternally in the supple health of this divine child. The figure with a pre-sale estimate of US$300,000 - 500,000 sold for US$492,500 (premium included), becoming the second top lot at the sale.

The third top lot was a Nepalese figure of Maitreya from the 14th century, estimated at US$350,000 - 450,000 and sold for US$468,500 (premium included). Maitreya, the successor of Gautama Buddha, has a resplendent lotus flower by his left shoulder that identifies this idealized young prince as the future Buddha Maitreya.


Top three lots

A Gilt Copper Figure of Manjushri Namasangiti
Nepal, 13th/14th Century

Lot no.: 3203
Height: 15.8cm

  • Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, New York, early 1960s
  • Sotheby’s, New York, 2 November 1988, lot 80
  • Private European Collection
  • Carlton Rochell Asian Art, New York, 15 September 2010

Estimate: US$250,000 - 350,000
Price realized: US$672,500

A Copper Alloy Figure of Dancing Krishna
Tamil Nadu, Chola Dynasty, Circa 12th Century

Lot no.: 3231
Height: 39.2cm

  • Spink & Son Ltd, London
  • Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, New York
  • Sold to benefit Asia Society, New York, Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, New York, 3 May 1977, lot 7
  • William H. Wolff, Inc., New York, 23 October 1985
  • Robert and Bernice Dickes Collection
  • Carlton Rochell Asian Art, 22 March 2010

Estimate: US$300,000 - 500,000
Price realized: US$492,500

A Gilt Copper Figure of Maitreya
Nepal, 14th Century

Lot no.: 3205
Height: 32cm
Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1977
Collection of J. Gelpey, 1977-1979
Galerie De Ruimte, Eersel
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Meijer, Netherlands, 1981-2010
Marcel Nies Oriental Art, Antwerp, 1 December 2010
Estimate: US$350,000 - 450,000
Price realized: US$468,500


Auction summary

Auction house: Bonhams New York
Sale: The Maitri Collection of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art
Sale date: 2018/3/20