The works are from a collection of nearly thirteen hundred pieces donated for the Met’s centennial in 2015 — which the Irvings agreed the museum could sell as long as the proceeds went toward future acquisitions. Accordingly, all proceeds from the sale will benefit the Irving Acquisition Fund, which the museum created to diversify its collections. The pieces to be auctioned by Sotheby's include more than a hundred and twenty archaic and Qing Dynasty jades, along with sculptures and works in porcelain.
In recognition of the couple's many gifts over several decades, the museum in 2004 named its Asian art wing the Herbert and Florence Irving Asian Wing. After Herbert Irving, a co-founder of Sysco Corp., died in 2016, his widow, a Met trustee, made a bequest of more than $80 million in 2017 to establish an unrestricted endowment fund for acquisitions as well as several endowment funds for the Department of Asian Art to use for acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications. Florence Irving died in 2018.