On-site insights

HK EDITION | Updated: 2020-04-25 09:00
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Toshinobu Onosato, Work, (1968) [Photo/Courtesy Watanuki Ltd./Toki-no-Wasuremono, Tokyo]

Major art fairs including the Frieze New York, Art Dubai, Art Central and Art Basel in Hong Kong have replicated the actions of hundreds of local and global galleries, museums and art institutions, all of whom have closed their doors to real-life visitors in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With numerous travel bans and lockdowns worldwide, in place of the physical realm, they've concurrently launched digital alternatives as a secondary form of "on-site" seduction.

Last month, Art Basel in Hong Kong launched a VIP preview of its digital-only Online Viewing Rooms to atone for the local fair it canceled in February due to the growing spread of coronavirus. (The group also just postponed its Basel gathering in June as Switzerland shut its borders.) However, the lack of real-life exhibition space hasn't affected digital sales at the high end, in which most buyers are seasoned collectors and existing clients.

Indeed, they're buying-and the cash is flying. As part of the Online Viewing Rooms, gallery Hauser & Wirth sold Jenny Holzer's XX 8 for $350,000, as well as works by Josef Albers for $600,000 and Pipilotti Rist for $140,000. The Gagosian sold a Georg Baselitz for €1.2 million and a Zeng Fanzhi for $450,000, among other sales. David Zwirner sold a Marlene Dumas work for $2.6 million, a Luc Tuymans for $2 million and a Liu Ye for $500,000.

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