Guy Ullens ‘attacked at board meeting’ for seeking profit from sale of gallery

A patron of the non-profit Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, which is hosting major Zeng Fanzhi retrospective, reveals some are unhappy with founder

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 12:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:26pm

The elephant in the room at the patrons’ dinner held by Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art to mark Zeng Fanzhi’s biggest solo exhibition to date: the crisis enveloping the art gallery.

How China’s most bankable artist, Zeng Fanzhi, found new way to make art

In June 2016, Guy Ullens, the centre’s founder, announced he was putting the non-profit organisation up for sale. No potential buyer has been named and the future of the 10-year-old institution is shrouded in uncertainty. May Xue, chief executive of the UCCA, and Philip Tinari, director, would not comment. But one long-time patron told SCMP.com that during a board meeting hours before the dinner, Ullens was attacked for wanting to make money out of a non-profit space long sustained by their generosity.

Ullens has been selling his extensive Chinese contemporary art portfolio since 2009. On October 2-3, he sold 31 of 34 pieces chosen from what remains of his contemporary Chinese art collection to raise HK$14 million for the centre. At the Sotheby’s sale, prices ranged from HK$10 million for a Zhang Xiaogang work to photos by Liang Yue and Han Lei which sold for less than HK$5,000, well below their estimates.