Chinese Art Lover Budi Tek Taking Place Among World's Top Collectors

    One of the world's most influential buyers of Chinese contemporary art, Budi Tek has spent the last several years amassing a collection of some of the most important works by the likes of Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing and Zeng Fanzhi.
    Indonesian-Chinese art collector Budi Tek
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Tek Planning To Open Private Shanghai Museum Next Year#

    Jing Daily

    One of the world's most influential buyers of Chinese contemporary art, the Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek has spent the last several years amassing a collection of some of the most important works by the likes of Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing and Zeng Fanzhi. Like other ethnic Chinese super-collectors from Indonesia, Singapore and elsewhere — among them Woffles Wu and Barry Lam — Tek has been instrumental in furthering the growth of the Chinese contemporary art market, buoying it through tougher times in 2009 and pushing along its ongoing "second boom."

    Next year, Tek plans to open his first private museum in mainland China in Shanghai, which the Art Newspaper noted in 2011 will be designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and "boast 8,000 sq. m of exhibition space, with two-thirds for a display from Tek’s permanent collection, while the remaining space will house rotating exhibitions." Slated to open not long after the Dragon Art Museum, the long-discussed 12,000 square meter, three-floor space commissioned by Shanghai-based super-collectors Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Tek's space will, unlike Wang's and Liu's, include a mix of Western and Chinese artists, while the Dragon Art Museum will focus on Chinese contemporary art, traditional ink paintings, and revolutionary-era "Red Classics," as well as include space for art education classes.

    This week, the New York Times profiles Budi Tek, noting that the collectors has largely flown under the radar while rapidly taking his place among the world's most powerful and prolific buyers of art. Virtually unknown in art collecting circles less than a decade ago, last year Tek was listed eighth on Art & Auction magazine’s top 10 most influential people in the art world, behind the likes of the US billionaire and museum founder Eli Broad and the luxury tycoon and Christie's owner François-Henri Pinault.

    From the profile:

    Mr. Tek began collecting art about eight years ago and has since amassed more than a thousand pieces of contemporary art, primarily focusing on works by Chinese artists. His collection includes global stars like Ai Weiwei, Zhang Xiaogang and Fang Lijun, as well as emerging artists. In the past couple of years, he has also started to look beyond Chinese artists, buying works by Western contemporary names like the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer and the British sculptor Antony Gormley.

    The profile goes on to point out that Budi Tek's collection is surprisingly low on Southeast Asian art, but notes that many high-profile collectors in China, Indonesia and Singapore have been slow to turn to that region. However, this may be changing as Indonesian art in particular starts to get more exposure at auctions in Hong Kong and elsewhere:

    The lack of knowledge about [the Southeast Asian] art scene is a sentiment echoed by many other collectors, particularly those in or from China. “I know of a few Taiwanese collectors who buy Southeast Asian art, but very few people in mainland China are interested in these artists, because we have no connection with them, ” said Yang Bin, a prominent Chinese collector.

    Like Mr. Tek, Mr. Yang started building a large collection of Chinese contemporary artworks before bypassing the rest of Asia to start collecting Western contemporary artists. He has works by Roxy Paine, Louise Bourgeois, Mr. Kiefer and Tony Oursler, among others.

    Hoping to learn more about Indonesian art, Mr. Yang joined a small group of collectors — including the influential Chinese collector and gallery owner Pearl Lam — on a four-day tour earlier this year organized by Art Stage Singapore, an annual art fair. Lorenzo Rudolf, the director of ArtStage, said he felt it was important to organize such trips for collectors who are still rather unfamiliar with Indonesian art. “

    Asian collectors tend to start buying what they know — Indonesians, Indonesian art, Chinese, Chinese art — and then they go directly to the Western market, bypassing the rest of the region

    ,” he noted.

    While it will likely take years before mainland Chinese collectors start buying Western art in significant amounts, the influence that high-profile collectors like Yang Bin, Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Pearl Lam and Budi Tek have on the buying trends of new bidders shouldn't be downplayed. Still, the buying of blue-chip Chinese contemporary art remains an area in which Asian collectors, naturally in China, continue to dominate. Since the emerging new Chinese collector is starting from a lower position in terms of art education and awareness of non-Chinese art, in coming years it's unlikely that we'll see this important buyer segment move on to buying works from other art markets with the sort of speed we've seen among the super-collectors.

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