Asia's 50 Biggest Art Collectors: 2019 Edition
This list was compiled by Asia Tatler's editors across the region including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Phillippines, Indonesia and Thailand. The collectors included in this list are featured in no particular order.
New: Joseph Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, Hong Kong
Why them? On top of sharing a passion for tech—Joseph is co-founder of the Alibaba Group and Clara is an advisor to Taobao—this tycoon couple are both keen supporters of the arts. They're known to be avid collectors but are currently keeping the details of their collection private, though it's said to be focused on contemporary art. Last year, the couple was named in American magazine ArtNews’ list of top 200 collectors in the world for the first time.
New: Thomas Lau, Hong Kong
Why him? The chairman and CEO of Lifestyle International, the group that operates Sogo department store in Hong Kong, Thomas is an avid—but low-profile—art collector. His collection is kept under wraps and he never advertises his purchases, but we hear that he collects both modern and contemporary works. He has been named by ArtNews as one of the top 200 collectors in the world every year since 2014. His brother, Joseph Lau, also appears on that list.
New: Evan Chow, Hong Kong
Why him? By day, financial whiz Evan is managing partner of MCL Financial Group and managing director of CEF Capital. But when Evan isn’t brokering deals or analyzing the markets, he travels the world meeting fellow art collectors, visiting artists’ studios and adding works to his ever-growing collection of contemporary art, which includes works by local artists—including Frog King and Chris Huen Sin-kan—and international stars such as Alicja Kwade and Katherine Bernhardt.
That’s not all: Evan also advises several leading art institutions: he’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the New Museum in New York, a member of the International Circle of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and is a supporter of M+, among others.
Adrian Cheng, Hong Kong
Why him? Heir to the New World Development and Chow Tai Fook fortunes, Adrian is also the founder of the K11 Art Foundation, which supports artists working in China. He owns works by major artists such as Zhang Enli, Zhang Ding, Tatiana Trouvé and Adrián Villar Rojas.
What's next? He’d love to own a work by Leonardo da Vinci.
Alan Lau, Hong Kong
Why him? As he works for Chinese tech corporation Tencent, it should come as no surprise that Alan is particularly interested in art that explores technology. His collection includes works by Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei and photos by Jon Rafman.
First love: Alan caught the collecting bug when he bought a work by Hong Kong graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi, known as the King of Kowloon.
William Lim, Hong Kong
Why him? The architect’s collection of works by Hong Kong artists is so extensive that German imprint Hatje Cantz has published a book, The No Colors, dedicated to it.
That's not all: William is the architect behind H Queen’s, a 24-storey arts hub in Central, Hong Kong, that is now home to leading international galleries David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Pace Gallery, among others.
William Zhao, Hong Kong
Why him? After a decade in banking, William threw in the towel in 2003 to focus on his greatest passion: art. The critic, curator and collector now owns more than 300 works, including pieces by Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys and Carol Rama.
First love: William began collecting in earnest after falling in love with—and buying—a drawing by Picasso.
Alan Lo, Hong Kong
Why him? The collector and patron uses his string of restaurants to share art with the masses, with Duddell’s in Hong Kong being the most art-focused of all Alan’s establishments. With perfect parcels of dim sum being cooked in the kitchen and world-class art on the walls, why would you want to be anywhere else?
That's not all: Alan’s personal collection features works by Yayoi Kusama and Sterling Ruby.
Lawrence Chu, Hong Kong
Why him? Financier Lawrence has an eclectic collection that features the works of established and emerging artists, ranging from paintings by Mark Bradford and Yayoi Kusama to installations by Guan Xiao and Lee Kit.
Max and Monique Burger, Hong Kong
Why them? The husband-and-wife team are founders of the enormous Burger Collection, which includes more than 1,000 works by leading contemporary artists from around the world.
Big spenders: At Art Basel in Switzerland last year, Monique and Max were reported to have spent US$300,000 on an installation of 62 drawings by African-American artist Kara Walker.
Ma Weidu, Mainland China
Why him? An antiques aficionado, Weidu probably has the largest private collection of ancient art and artefacts in mainland China. In 1997, he opened the Guanfu Museum in Beijing to share his collection.
First love: A porcelain hanging panel, which cost him 1,600 yuan. He had been saving the money for a new TV but couldn’t resist the panel.
Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Mainland China
Why them? Yiqian and Wei are the very definition of a power couple. He’s chairman of the Sunline Group and Wei has spearheaded the development of their privately owned Long Museum, which has branches in Shanghai and Chongqing.
Big spenders: Since 2009, they’ve spent almost 10 billion yuan on art and art projects, such as the Long Museum premises. In 2015, they bought the painting Nu Couché by Amedeo Modigliani for US$170.4 million.
Wang Zhongjun, Mainland China
Why him? With homes in Beijing, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, film producer Zhongjun has plenty of wall space to display his art. He is a particular fan of Chinese modern and contemporary art and owns works by Luo Zhongli, Ai Xuan and Wu Guanzhong, among others.
Wang Jingyuan, Mainland China
Why her? The former TV anchor, who is married to Guo Guangchang, the chairman of the Fosun International conglomerate, has been instrumental in building up the couple’s private art collection, which includes works by Ding Yi and Liu Ye among many others.
Kylie Ying, Mainland China
Why her? Kylie sees nothing wrong with mixing business with pleasure. While building up her own collection of contemporary Chinese art, she spotted a gap in the market and in 2013 launched Art021, an art fair in Shanghai. She owns works by Zhang Enli, Wu Dayu and Huang Yuxing, among others.
Qiao Zhibing, Mainland China
Why him? Sometimes referred to as “China’s King of Nightclubs,” Zhibing might soon also be the king of the art world if he continues collecting at such a rapid rate. He’s the brains behind Tank Shanghai, a 60,000-square-metre private museum in the West Bund cultural corridor.
Chiu Tsai-hing, Taiwan
Why him? An electronics tycoon, Tsai-hing owns more than 1,000 paintings and calligraphy scrolls by mainland Chinese artists, more than 500 works of Taiwanese contemporary art, and hundreds of antiques.
Heart of Gold: He auctioned 300 works from his collection in 2017 to provide funds for Taipei’s Hong-gah Museum.
Maggie Tsai, Taiwan
Why her? Art is both Maggie’s greatest love and her business. She’s the CEO of the Fubon Art Foundation in Taipei, which hosts lectures, exhibitions and performances around Taiwan to make art more accessible.
In a fire, she would grab... Works by Sanyu, a Chinese-French painter who is her all-time favourite.
Wen-long Shi, Taiwan
Why him? The founder of the Chi Mei Corporation and the Chimei Museum is a patron of music and art. Since he founded the Chimei Museum in 1992, Wen-long has helped it acquire more than 12,000 works of art.
Barry Lam, Taiwan
Why him? The founder and chairman of Quanta Computer is also a major patron of the arts. Barry owns more than 2,000 works, many of them Chinese paintings and calligraphy.
Big spender: In 2010, Barry won Zhang Daqian’s painting Aachensee Lake at auction with a bid of 100.8 million yuan (about US$14 million).
Pierre Chen, Taiwan
Why him? The billionaire founder of Yageo, a manufacturer of electronics, Pierre is regularly listed as one of the world’s most prolific art collectors.
First love: The first work Pierre bought was a sculpture by the Hong Kong artist Cheung Yee.
In a fire, he would grab... Cy Twombly’s 1971 painting Untitled (Rome) and Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud (1965).
Soichiro Fukutake, Japan
Why him? Fukutake is the brains behind Benesse Art Site Naoshima, an initiative that has transformed an archipelago in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan into an art-lover’s paradise.
The project includes the Chichu Art Museum at the heart of Naoshima island, a minimalist building designed by Tadao Ando to permanently house works by Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter De Maria.
Yusaku Maezawa, Japan
Why him? You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of Jean-Michel Basquiat than Yusaku. In 2016, he broke auction records for the artist by spending US$57.3 million on one of his paintings. In 2017, he broke his own record by dropping US$110.5 million on another Basquiat painting.
Choi Seung-hyun, South Korea
Why him? Seung-hyun, the K-pop sensation better known as TOP, may be used to performing in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans, but he actually feels more at home in the hushed halls of museums.
His art collection includes works by Nam June Paik, Kim Whan-ki and Lee Ufan. He also co-curated an exhibition at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum and curated a contemporary art auction for Sotheby’s, which the auction house called #TTTOP.
Hyun-sook Lee, South Korea
Why her? The founder of Seoul’s Kukje Gallery is also an avid collector. Hanging in Hyun-Sook’s home in Seoul are works by Anish Kapoor, Roy Lichtenstein and Lee Ufan. An Alexander Calder sculpture sits in the garden.
Carmen Chua, Malaysia
Why her? Aside from building up her own personal collection, Carmen has used her connections to acquire a sculpture by Fernando Botero and commission an installation by Barnaby Hosking for the St Regis Kuala Lumpur, which is owned by her family.
First love: Architectural photo prints.
Farouk and Aliyah Khan, Malaysia
Why them? After more than 20 years scouring the length and breadth of Malaysia for the most inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful art, Farouk and Aliya have assembled one of the largest private collections of Malaysian art in the world.
Highlights include works by Azad Daniel Haris, Fauzan Omar and Eng Hwee Chu.
Jackson See, Singapore
Why him? The curator has been collecting art for more than 25 years. Alongside Uli Sigg, Jackson was one of the first collectors to buy contemporary Chinese art.
Richard Hoon, Singapore
Why him? Fintech whizz Richard owns more than 100 works of contemporary art, including a piece by surrealist pioneer Joan Miro.
First love: A Michael Heizer print he bought in 1980.
What's next? He’s looking to buy a sculpture by Alexander Calder.
Daniel Teo, Singapore
Why him? With more than 1,000 works in his private collection, Daniel might be the most prolific art collector in Singapore.
Haryanto Adikoesoemo, Indonesia
Why him? All eyes in the art world were on Haryanto last year when he launched Museum MACAN, a modern and contemporary art museum in Jakarta that the tycoon funded and owns.
The museum has already been a hit with the public, who have turned up in droves to admire works by Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and leading Indonesian artists.
Prasodjo Winarko, Indonesia
Why him? When he’s not busy running PT Union Metal, you can find Prasodjo at libraries, galleries and museums learning about Indonesian art. He particularly loves paintings and owns canvases by Entang Wiharso and Mangu Putra among his more than 700 works.
First love: The first painting he bought was by Nyoman Gunarsa.
Oei Hong Djien, Indonesia
Why him? Oei Hong Djien owns more than 2,000 works by Indonesian artists, many of which are housed in his OHD Museum in Jakarta. He has also written multiple essays on Indonesian art and collecting, and has delivered lectures around the world.
Deddy Kusuma, Indonesia
Why him? With his trademark hairstyle and oversized tinted glasses, it’s hard to miss Deddy as he zips around art fairs. A real estate tycoon, Deddy owns works by major Chinese and Indonesian artists, including paintings by S Sudjojono.
Heart of gold: In 2010, he organised and funded an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris to promote Indonesian contemporary artists.
Budi Tek, Indonesia
Why him? Coming to art collecting relatively late in life, Budi Tek bought his first work of art in 2004. But once he started, he couldn’t stop.
Within a decade, he’d amassed more than 1,500 works, many of them large sculptures, and opened the cavernous Yuz Museum in Shanghai to house his collection.
Alexander Tedja, Indonesia
Why him? The president of real estate developer Pakuwon Jati Group, Alexander has been collecting art since the 1980s and owns more than 100 works, including pieces by era-defining Indonesian painters.
Rudy Akili, Indonesia
Why him? He may own one of the largest travel agencies in Indonesia, but when it comes to art, Rudy is mainly focused on his home country. His extensive collection includes works by Indonesian masters Affandi and Hendra Gunawan, as well as many other major artists.
Heart of gold: Rudy opened the Akili Museum of Art in 2006 to provide a space to showcase Indonesian art.
Joven Cuanang, Philippines
Why him? The neurologist is a keen patron of the arts and the founder of Manila’s Pinto Art Museum. His collection focuses on works by Filipino artists.
What's next? He’d love to own works by Filipino artists Kawayan de Guia and Jigger Cruz.
Kim and Lito Camacho, Philippines
Why them? The Camachos have an insatiable appetite for modern and contemporary art. They began in 1981 by collecting work by Filipino modern artists, then branching out into Southeast Asian art, and then Japanese contemporary art, collecting video works by TeamLab, photos by Nobuyoshi Araki and work by Yayoi Kusama.
First love: Their first purchase was a print by Manuel Rodriguez Sr, considered to be the father of printmaking in the Philippines.
Boonchai Bencharongkul, Thailand
Why him? Few people know more about Thai contemporary art (or have larger collections of it) than telecoms tycoon Boonchai, who founded the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok.
Some of the highlights of the museum, which houses more than 800 works, are paintings by reclusive artist Sompong Adusarabhan, who lives off-grid in the jungle near the River Kwai.
Jean-Michel Beurdeley and Eric Bunnag Booth, Thailand
Why them? The father-and-son team are the brains behind the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, where they showcase art from their collection of more than 200 works.
Petch Osathanugrah, Thailand
Why him? Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as an “arbiter of taste in Thailand,” Petch has one of the largest collections of Thai contemporary paintings in the world. He’s currently building a private museum, O Museum, in Bangkok.
Disaphol Chansiri, Thailand
Why him? Disaphol turned his love of buying art into a business, launching the firm DCA Art Consultant in 2013. An inventory of his own collection reads like a who’s who of the modern and contemporary art worlds: Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Yoshitomo Nara, Rirkrit Tiravanija… The list goes on and on.