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UBS wants more Asian works in its collection. Photo: Jonathan Wong

UBS sponsors Art Basel Hong Kong as finance, culture intersect in Asia

Art Basel

The globalisation of the art world is extending from the cultural to the financial, with UBS sponsoring the Asian arts scene via a Hong Kong art fair.

The Swiss bank will become the new partner of Art Basel Hong Kong from tomorrow, the has learned.

UBS will replace Deutsche Bank. The German bank sponsored Art Basel Hong Kong this year, the inaugural event under its new name. Deutsche has been sponsoring the fair's predecessor, ART HK, since 2009.

The Swiss bank has been a partner of Art Basel, the world's largest modern and contemporary art fair, for 20 years. It also became a partner when Art Basel launched Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002.

ART HK, which started in May 2008, rose to become Asia's largest modern and contemporary art fair.

In 2011, MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel), organisers of Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach, acquired a 60 per cent stake in ART HK's organisers, Asian Art Fairs. ART HK subsequently fell under the umbrella of the Art Basel family, which now has presences in Europe, the Americas and Asia.Chi-Won Yoon, chief executive of UBS Asia Pacific, said the new partnership with Art Basel Hong Kong was a "natural extension of a long-standing partnership with Art Basel".

The Swiss bank will actively look at Asia in terms of sponsorships for arts and culture in the region.

The bank's Hong Kong outpost is the largest in terms of the number of employees in Asia, but the number of Asian works featured in the bank's art collection was "not enough in respect of the size of our operations here", said Stephen McCoubrey, director and regional curator of UBS Art Collection, which has more than 35,000 works of art produced from the 1960s onwards.

McCoubrey said that Hong Kong artists were on the radar and that the bank was working on expanding its collection.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Swiss bank UBS sponsors Art Basel Hong Kong