He was known as the godfather of contemporary New Zealand dance - a genius who should never have been "exiled" at the end of the earth, according to ballet great Rudolph Nureyev.
When choreographer and dancer Douglas Wright, 62, passed away at his Auckland home last November, his astonishing career was widely celebrated.
But few people knew that Wright was also a keen collector of fine things, with an attuned yet eclectic eye for beauty.
So when Auckland auctioneer Andrew Grigg visited Wright's small Mt Albert home after his death, he was stunned to discover an "Aladdin's Cave" that was "exquisitely decorated" with quirky and original treasures.
Grigg found a Victorian prayer chair with rare embroidery of smoking devil figures, a carved Maori figure lamp with vintage-stylised Maori decorated shade, large 18th – 19th century painted and carved figure of a standing saint, and a dazzling collection of potted plants.
"You could tell much thought and energy had gone into completing this tapestry with unusual, special and creative items everywhere," said Grigg.
Now, the 30-strong collection of artworks collected over Wright's lifetime will feature in a Cordy's Auctioneers sale on February 26. The statuette of the saint has an estimate of $2000 while the Maori lamp is expected to fetch at least $1000.
Grigg described Wright as "one of New Zealand's most talented and imaginative" dancers and choreographers and expected widespread interest in the sale, both here and abroad.
A quirky feature of the auction is Wright's beloved an old brown vinyl armchair with roll arms and short tapering square section legs - together with an old patchwork quilt, a kilim cushion and a quilted java bedspread.
Born in Tuakau in 1956, Wright joined the contemporary Limbs Dance Company in 1980 before launching his career overseas with the acclaimed Paul Taylor Company in New York and the DV8 Physical Theatre in London.
Wright returned to New Zealand in the late 1980s and formed the Douglas Wright Dance Company, going on to create more than 30 works during his career, which he toured throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
He was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to dance in 1998 and was one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates in 2000.
Wright had battled ill health for many years following a 1999 HIV diagnosis.