Bloomberg Profiles Indonesia’s Prime Collector
All art markets have a prime collector who gives the field an initial shape and benchmark. Bloomberg profiles tobacco heir, Oei Hong Djien, who has three museums and 1500 works. Adam Medjendie writes:
Oei’s friendship with expressionist painter Affandi in the 1980s developed into the most comprehensive private collection of modern and contemporary Indonesian work. The two museums in the grounds of his house, one for 20th-century works and the other for contemporary ones, contain paintings by Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Sudjojono, Yunizar, Nyomen Masriadi and more than 100 others, as well as sculptures and installations. [ . . . ]
The market shifted after overseas collectors began to buy works of artists such as Putu Sutawijaya and Masriadi at Christies International and Sotheby’s auctions in Hong Kong and Singapore. Prices jumped 10-fold. Sutawijaya’s “Looking for Wings” sold in Singapore for S$114,000 ($80,000) with fees against a presale top estimate of S$9,000.
“Then the eyes of the Indonesian collectors opened,” Oei said. “They started also to buy.” Oei said the cause of the sudden change was China, where prices had risen rapidly since 2000. Some collectors were looking for a cheaper alternative.
The China effect boosted markets across Asia, including India and Indonesia, traditionally the biggest art producers in south and southeast Asia. Prices were also rising as economic growth in the region created new collectors.