Jul 01 2016

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Put Up For Sale

by Hanae Ko

Exterior view of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Image source: wikimedia.org.

On June 30, Belgian baron Guy Ullens announced that he is looking for a buyer for his Beijing museum, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.

A joint statement from the UCCA and the Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation states that Ullens, who together with his wife Myriam are renowned collectors of contemporary art, will also be selling their collection of over 2,000 works through private sales and auctions this year. “I have been a patron of the arts in China for over 30 years and have found this a hugely interesting and fascinating experience,” Guy Ullens said. “I’m now in my eighties and need to look at how to hand over the stewardship of the UCCA and my art collection to younger patrons of the arts.” In the meantime, the UCCA will continue to operate under its current leadership and hold exhibitions as scheduled. 

Founded in 2007, the UCCA focuses on showcasing recent and historical movements in Chinese contemporary art, and also introducing major artists from around the region and the world to the Chinese audience. Since its opening, the museum has presented more than a hundred exhibitions, including that of Liu Xiaodong, Xu Zhen and Liu Wei, as well as Olafur Eliasson, Tino Sehgal and Tatsuo Miyajima.

The announcement of its sale marks the second time in recent years that the UCCA has faced a potential shakeup, with the first taking place five years ago when rumors started circulating that the Ullenses were planning to sell the museum. A substantial part of the couple’s collection of contemporary Chinese art was first auctioned in 2011 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong under the banner “The Ullens Collection – The Nascence of Avant Garde China” which reaped the Belgian collectors over USD 71 million. Commenting on the institution’s future, May Xue, CEO of the UCCA, remains positive. “We will continue to operate the Centre as usual and, as always, work to elaborate an inclusive cosmopolitan vision of China in the world,” she said.