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.

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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 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.