Founding father— Hong Kong


In under four years the Hong Kong International Art Fair has become a key date on dealers’ and buyers’ calendars. Founding director Magnus Renfrew tells us about his work life, and how billionaires and airplanes helped him create a prize show.

Airplane, Arts, Fair

“I was recruited to help set up the Hong Kong art fair – ART HK. Previously I’d been an auction house specialist with Bonhams in London for seven years. I was doing a lot of research into the art scene in Asia and was really struck by the sophistication of what was being produced out here and I was keen to come out to see first-hand some of the changes that are happening.

Asia is booming economically; there’s huge growth here. The auction market is very young but Hong Kong is already the third largest in the world after New York and London. It’s…

Magnus Renfrew CV

1975 Born Winchester, UK; grows up in Cambridge
1999 Graduates with a first class honours in Art History from St Andrews, Scotland and joins Bonhams as a fine art specialist
2004 Marries pastry chef Emma Williamson. They have a son, Finlay
2006 Joins Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai, on one-year contract as head of exhibitions
2007 Appointed founding fair director of ART HK: Hong Kong International Art Fair

The fair's draw

The Hong Kong International Art Fair may only have been going since 2008 but it has already firmly put the city on the global arts’ agenda with its impressive line-up of international and regional galleries, including Barbara Gladstone, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery and Seoul’s Kukje Gallery, and a plethora of smaller outfits fighting to get in – 260 galleries out of 500 applicants were accepted this year. Renfrew has been a driving force behind its success, convincing big-time buyers to attend the fair in large numbers.


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