Now would seem like a bad time to sell Chinese Contemporary art. Though sharp observers of the fall sales in Hong Kong (especially Sotheby’s sale) have noticed that even though sales volumes were down, average prices were up for the big names. In other words, plenty of work didn’t sell. But the stuff that sold, sold very well indeed.
Put in that context, today’s news from Bloomberg’s Eugene Tang that Baron Ullens is planning to sell additional works from his collection to fund Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art because he has always “dynamically managed our collection”–as Ullens said in an email to Tang–may be what the poker players call a “tell.”
Guy Ullens’s collection began with Chinese classical scroll paintings of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. In 1985, he traveled frequently to China to run the family’s sugar business and became interested in contemporary art.[ . . . ] The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation owns about 1,500 paintings, sculptures, installations and video works in its collection. They opened the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in November 2007 in Beijing’s 798 art district, housing their collection in a Bauhaus-style former arms factory. The UCCA is the largest non-profit exhibition space at 798, funded by philanthropists, sales from the museum’s gift shop and its Super Ganbei cafe. In July 2008, the couple displayed more than 90 pieces of work by 60 Chinese artists in their “Our Future” exhibition. The collection included paintings by Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Guangyi, and the late Chen Yifei, as well as installations by Wang Du.