Art Basel’s Parent Company Reinvests in Singapore Fair After Abandoning It in 2018

The Swiss conglomerate MCH Group, Art Basel’s parent company, has reinvested in Arts Events Singapore, the organizer of the forthcoming ART SG fair. Through the deal, MCH Group now owns a 15-percent minority stake in Arts Event Singapore. The full terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a statement, MCH Group CEO Beat Zwahlen said, “We are convinced of the successful launch of the new art fair in January 2023 and are delighted that we are in a position to be able to support it. Our participation in ART SG will contribute equally to strengthening the art market and our position in this attractive geographical area.”

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ART SG was initially expected to launch in 2019, and is now scheduled to host its inaugural edition from January 12–15, 2023 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre and will look to gather 100 galleries in Singapore. “We will establish a distinctive identity for ART SG which reflects Singapore’s natural role as a regional hub and as a gateway to Southeast Asia,” ART SG cofounder Magnus Renfrew said in a statement. “Fostering artistic excellence and cultural dialogue across Southeast Asia and the broader Asia Pacific region is central to ART SG’s mission, and we are delighted to have the support of MCH Group whose experience and network will benefit these ambitions.”

In 2016, MCH Group announced that it would look to expand its art fair holdings by buying stake in regional art fairs around the world. Over the span of two years, the company bought stakes in the India Art Fair, Art Düsseldorf, and ART SG, but those plans were quickly derailed after the company’s longtime CEO, René Kamm, resigned unexpectedly in 2018. By November of that year, MCH had sold its shares in those fairs in an effort to financially stabilize the company.

Despite the pandemic upending art events of all kinds, Art Basel announced last year that it would strengthen its presence in Asia, where it already holds a fair each March in Hong Kong. The art market in Asia has grown exponentially over the past several years, and recent auctions and fairs have shown that the pandemic has not slowed it down. The fair is lending “support” to two gallery weekend–style events: Art Week Tokyo in Japan, which launched last November, and S.E.A. Focus, also in Singapore, which will run concurrently with ART SG.

[See the exhibitor list for Art Basel Hong Kong 2022.]

In a statement, Adeline Ooi, Art Basel’s Asia director, said, “With our participation in ART SG, we can make a further contribution to encouraging the creation, experience and understanding of contemporary art in Asia beyond Art Basel in Hong Kong, as we do in a different way through our support of S.E.A. Focus in Singapore and Art Week Tokyo.”


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