The New York Times profiles the founder of Jakarta’s Museum Macan which is built upon Haryanto Adikoesoemo’s personal collection but with the state of the art facilities that will allow it to borrow from any museum in the world. Adikoesoemo typifies the new collectors emerging in Asia in that his tastes and interest in art are not bound by his national culture or regional identity.
Adikoesoemo collects Kusama and Koons, Basquiat and Affandi but his first encounter with buying art was more oriented toward European masters which turned out to be a very sound way to store some of the value generated by his family chemicals business.
During the 1997 Asian currency crisis, Indonesia was hit very hard. Adikoesoemo had levered up the family business to expand leaving them exposed to a downturn.
“I needed money, so I had to sell all of my Impressionists,” he said with a smile. “The crisis was very tough.” […]
His father had told him he was crazy to have invested so much money in Western paintings, but with Indonesian assets valued at next to nothing, the Picasso and Renoir were suddenly among the family’s most valuable possessions. Mr. Adikoesoemo sold the Western artworks as part of a debt-restructuring deal with 28 foreign banks. “At that time, my father was 63 years old, so he said: ‘It’s up to you. If you can solve it, you solve it, it’s yours; if you cannot solve it, there is nothing for you,’” Mr. Adikoesoemo remembered.
Thanks to One Man’s Collection, Jakarta Now Has a World-Class Museum (The New York Times)