Katharine Butler, who has acted as the custodian of her father’s collection since his death, pictured recently in the custom-made museum in Dorset. Photo by Paul Harris
We are sad to have to report that the unique and world famous Butler Collection of Transitional (17th century) Chinese porcelain will be broken up tomorrow, September 24. The four members of the warring Butler family will meet at a country house in Dorset in the morning. There, in a bizarre ritual, they will each, in turn, choose a piece of porcelain for their own personal use until all 500 pieces collected by diplomat Sir Michael Butler are distributed amongst them. This follows a London High Court judgement that the the collection should be split up amongst the two sisters and two brothers following a long and acrimonious ownership dispute. Katharine Butler (pictured above) had fought to keep the collection together as a resource of worldwide importance in which process, se understand, she has spent a very substantial six figure sum.
We have previousy written about this sad situation (http://chineseart.co.uk/blog/closure-and-dispersal-looms-for-unique-butler-collection-of-chinese-porcelain/ ). Intelligent members of the art world have universally criticised the destruction of the unique collection which is indubitably the best in the world in the context of Chinese 17th century porcelain. Ironically, the destruction of the collection by dividing it up means that the individual pieces will have only a modest value: typically £3-5,000 each, bringing out a total value of just £2.5 million pounds. Chineseart.co.uk is aware of Chinese purchasers who would have fronted at least £20 million pounds to have the whole collection and who would have been prepared to put it on show, albeit in Shanghai or Beijing.