Art Basel in Hong Kong opened Tuesday afternoon to swarms of VIPs and collectors.
Talk at the fair was dominated by Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XII (1975), a masterpiece from the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, which sold for $35 million by the Lévy Gorvy gallery in the first hour. “We all said that Asia has arrived, and it has,” noted Adeline Ooi, director of Asia for Art Basel, calling the sale “a testament to the strength of the Asian market.” Indeed, Art Basel in Hong Kong opened one day after visitors flocked to openings at H Queen’s, a Jenga tower of world-class exhibition spaces that are orders of magnitude larger than the broom closets that previously passed for galleries in Hong Kong’s cramped environs. The building houses swaggering mega-galleries Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner, the first spaces in Asia for both. Pace Gallery secured a floor, as well, its second Hong Kong gallery, as did local stalwart Pearl Lam, which adds another jewel to a crown that already includes a spot in the city, as well as two others in Singapore. All at once, Hong Kong’s burgeoning art scene got a shot in the arm.