Picasso artwork potentially included in art collection of late museum curator John Perry

Art enthusiasts are hoping to find a hidden Picasso in an enormous, one-of-a-kind collection left behind by the late museum curator John Perry.

Webb's Auction House has been sorting through the labyrinth of artwork, with the first pieces going up for sale next week.

The extraordinary treasure trove of the late art collector John Perry includes thousands of paintings, artefacts and photographs all stored in an old west Auckland cinema.

Decorative arts specialist at Webb's Cam Millar has been sorting through it all.

"I've been to a few estates but nothing to this magnitude. This is quite an amazing find," Millar said.

There are even rumours of a Picasso art piece.

"I'm hoping there is. We've found a Picasso print or two so far, but we don't know until we can get further into this collection."

Perry was the director of Rotorua Museum for a decade. He purchased a disused cinema in west Auckland where he kept his collection until his death in 2021, and now Webb's Auction House is selling it on his family's behalf.

Perry's expansive art collection spans over 700 square metres, the equivalent of four tennis courts, and from next week the first of the items will go to auction.

"This is unprecedented. There is no larger auction in terms of lot count that has ever been presented at auction here in Aotearoa," Ben Erren, head of directive arts at Webb's, said.

The first items from Perry's collection are on display at the auction house in central Auckland.

Some of the Dick Lyne paintings included in the collection could go for up to $10,000 each.

"In classic John fashion, these were stacked up behind five, or 10 other paintings," Erren said.

Other pieces have particular significance to Perry, including a kete.

"This kete was done by a New Zealand artist called Jeff Thompson who made this specifically for John," Erren said.

A historic collection that goes to auction on Tuesday.