Piya Shivdasani of Saffronart visits Art Basel Hong Kong and reports back on the first edition of this important Asian art fair
Singapore: By now, you would have read all the facts and figures available on Art Basel’s commercially successful debut in Hong Kong. It was a hit. The fair was so well-planned by its Swiss organisers that even the early ‘black rain’ warning and otherwise gloomy weather did not prevent the A-list of the international art world, with their skyscraper heels and deep pockets, from attending the vernissage on May 22nd. Not only did they attend, but no sooner had they swiped their black cards at the turnstiles, than Yayoi Kusama’s Flame of Life – Dedicated to Tu-Fu (1988) sold for $2million at Victoria Miro / OTA Fine Arts, reportedly to an Asian collector. A very strong start for Art Basel in Asia.
While the art fair was well attended by international collectors, including Roman Abromovich and Dasha Zukhova, Guy Ullens, Budi Tek, Uli Sigg and others, gallerists were aiming to entice the big Chinese spenders. Speaking to a mix of gallerists from Hong Kong, London and Mumbai, the general feeling was that while the Chinese were out in full-force, they didn’t engage in the quick and energetic buying one sees at Art Basel in Switzerland or in Miami. It is a gentler process in Hong Kong, one which requires patience but if the first edition serves as a crystal ball at all, this space is one to watch.