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Q&A: Magnus Renfrew — Director, Hong Kong Art Fair

Following last year’s $20m success at the inaugural Hong Kong Fair, we speak to its director on his plans for this year’s show, including 110 galleries from 24 countries.

What is the current atmosphere like in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong, like all financial centres, has been heavily hit. But the top two banks by market value in the world are both Chinese, and they are worth the equivalent of the top 24 banks in the US alone.

How do you plan to build on last year’s success?
We’ve built a bit of a critical mass, and we take our obligation to galleries such as Gagosian and White Cube very seriously. We’ve worked with auction houses and private wealth management companies at banks to bring in the buyers.

What sets the Hong Kong art fair apart from its competitors?
There is no tax on art in Hong Kong which puts us at an advantage over the rest of the Asian market. There is a 34 per cent tax on the Chinese mainland, for example. We are also being flexible in terms of pricing. Works will be from $1,000 up to $10m.

Contemporary Art Season, New York

This May, New York hosts its contemporary sale season at the three main houses. Following on from its success with Yves Saint Laurent’s collection in Paris, Christie’s is hoping for another record-breaking collection, with 77 works owned by the late philanthropist Betty Freeman on sale. Heading the collection is David Hockney’s portrait of Freeman, Beverly Hills Housewife, a work she loved so much she would regularly drive over and sit in front of it when she lent it to LACMA. Christie’s are also predicting it to break the world record for a Hockney, beating The Splash – sold at Sotheby’s for €4.3m in 2006.

Art Market – New York sale highlights:

01 David Hockney: Beverly Hills Housewife
1966 – 1967(estimate: €5.2m)
Christie’s Post–War & Contemporary Art Sales, 13–14 May 2009

02 Jeff Koons: Baroque egg with bow (turquoise/magenta),
1994 – 2006 (estimate: €4.5m)
Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Sales 12-13 May 2009

03 Robert Gober:Untitled, 1993 – 1994
(estimate: €1.8m)
Phillips de Pury Contemporary Art Sales 14-15 May 2009

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