Is the planet’s savviest entrepreneur of art and culture, writes STEPHEN SHORT
IT WASN’T SURPRISING that auction house Christie’s came to Hong Kong with its Leonardo da Vinci booty a month before the New York auction of Salvator Mundi for a record-breaking US$450 million, fees included. The strategy was to play up the status and ignore the substance, in the hope that one of China’s tycoon types might succumb to the catchy “male Mona Lisa” tagline Christie’s had cleverly – or crudely – created. “A collector might buy this and even build a museum for it,” said Loïc Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art for the Americas for Christie’s, to this writer. “It would be a statement not unlike the Louvre in Paris and the Mona Lisa. Maybe there’s a tycoon in China we don’t know about who wants to buy and build a museum for it.” Quite.
While that statement holds weight and plenty of physical evidence – Shanghai’s
Long Museum (founded by Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei) and Beijing’s M Woods Museum (Lin Han and Wanwan Lei) a pair of prime examples – no one better represents the