Art Basel Hong Kong Opens Today

Hong Kong - This city is taking center stage on the global conspicuous-consumption circuit this week as billionaires descend to visit Art Basel Hong Kong.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are in full attendance.

VIPs at last evening's vernissage included Kate Moss; Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova; and Jeffrey Deitch director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

“I am very happy this year,” said gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin who was beaming after spending time showing works of Takashi Murakami to Abramovich.

Perrotin sold out 10 Murakami fiberglass figures in the first few hours of the preview at $135,000 each.

“There is high anticipation as opposed to last year when everyone was holding his breath,” said Jasdeep Sandhu, director of Singapore-based Gajah Gallery, which is selling a new painting by I. Nyoman Masriadi for $350,000.

Dozens of galleries are taking advantage of the influx of well-heeled visitors to host openings, dinners and parties.

At the Pedder Building, six galleries held simultaneous vernissages last night.

Gagosian opened with a show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, Pearl Lam has Chinese abstract painter Zhu Jinshi. Hanart TZ Gallery is featuring ink-on-paper works by Qiu Zhijie, while Lehmann Maupin has hung embroideries and neon by Tracey Emin.

“We’ve got a security guard to manage the crowd,” Lehmann Maupin partner Courtney Plummer said before yesterday’s opening. “It’s a great problem to have.”

A few blocks away, on two floors of a retro-1930s building designed by Robert Stern, White Cube held a party to mark the opening of a show by Jake & Dinos Chapman. On the 17th floor, Murakami held court at his opening at Galerie Perrotin.

Balancing Act

Earlier, Galerie Malingue put on show in Hong Kong’s Statue Square a larger-than-life statue by Fabien Merelle. The French sculptor portrays himself balancing an elephant on his back. Numbered one in a series of three, it has already been sold to a private Southeast Asian collector for 250,000 euros ($322,770).

Wendi Deng Murdoch hosted a party at the Asia Society to promote her art website Artsy, while New World Development scion Adrian Cheng is holding a party at the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt hotel(owned by his family) in honor of his K11 Art Foundation.

Ground zero for the week’s selling extravaganza is Art Basel Hong itself which opened its doors to VIPs at noon, yesterday.

Rebranded this year as Art Basel Hong Kong, the fair formerly known as Hong Kong International Art Fair, is trying to maintain its distinctly regional flavor, with more than 50 percent of the 245 exhibitors coming from Asia and Asia-Pacific while focusing more attention on deep-pocketed visitors.

“Three years ago we had one person handling VIP relations,” said Art Basel Director Asia Magnus Renfrew. “Now we have 25 around the world and nine in Asia.”

The fair features a strong showing of European and U.S. heavyweights too.

First-time exhibitor Dominique Levy Gallery from New York is selling Warhol dollar-sign works priced from $500,000 to $6 million and Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska is featuring pneumatic figure paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

Art Basel Hong Kong runs from May 23 to May 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The lead sponsor is Deutsche Bank AG.

Information: https://www.artbasel.com/en/Hong-Kong