Art Basel

Art Basel Hong Kong wows ‘the sophisticated’

Fair attracts about 65,000 with more in-the-know buyers attending event

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:07am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 6:34pm

Art aficionados flooded the last day of Art Basel Hong Kong's exhibition yesterday with some galleries reporting million-dollar sales thanks to "more sophisticated" visitors.

About 65,000 people attended the four-day event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai - nearly 10 per cent more than last year when the fair made its debut in Hong Kong.

Sean Kelly, owner of Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, said: "The market is becoming much more sophisticated - also the people who are visiting. It's the best year we have had here." He said the gallery sold about 20 pieces of art worth more than seven-digits in US dollars to buyers from the Asia-Pacific region.

Fair newcomer Howard Shaw, president and director of New York-based Hammer Galleries, said the gallery made new contacts with interested collectors from Asia. "We don't always judge a fair simply by the sales we made during the period," he said. His gallery exhibited paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, with a total value of about US$100 million, and it sold one piece worth more than US$1 million.

Watch: Global art world arrives in Hong Kong for Art Basel

Thomas Lorenceau, from French gallery Brame & Lorenceau, said: "We were surprised by the public coming to the fair as they know the artists that we show, recognise and appreciate their works."

The gallery, taking part in the fair for the first time, sold two paintings, one of them by Chinese-French painter Zao Wou-ki.

Ginie Shi-Collins, manager of the Hong Kong-based Osage Gallery, said the fair had brought "international attention" to local artists.

The gallery's paintings by local artist Au Hoi-lam that were shown at the fair all sold out after two were bought by West Kowloon's future visual culture museum M+. But the owner of Hong Kong gallery de Sarthe complained that sales were not as high as last year. "We have not yet sold the works of big artists," said Pascal de Sarthe.

Of the 245 galleries from 39 countries and territories taking part, 25 were based in Hong Kong or have offices here. Most said they planned to return next year.

Art Basel, founded in 1970, made Hong Kong its third show location, after Basel in Switzerland and Miami in the United States.