A survey of some of the leading art collectors of China

Tastes remain mainly traditional


Joseph Lau Luen-Hung, Hong Kong

Property developer

Lau Luen-Hung always made extravagant purchases of cultural antiques, modern arts, wine and jewellery. In 2010, he made the top purchase of the evening at a Christie’s auction by paying $17m for a Qing dynasty incense burner.

Ma Weidu, Beijing

Professional collector

Ma’s 5,000 sq. m Guanfu Museum sits in Jinzhan, in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. In 2008, Ma appeared on national television and gave a series of lectures on collecting Chinese art and antiques.

Liu Yiqian, married to Wang Wei, Shanghai

Former chief executive of Tian Mao Group

The couple bought a major ancient calligraphy work by Wang Xizhi in 2010 for $49m. In the same year their collection of 60 important ancient paintings and ceramics was exhibited in the Poly Museum. They plan to open a private museum called Long Museum in Shanghai next year, with a total investment of more than $30.4m.

Stanley Ho, Hong Kong Entrepreneur in Hong Kong and Macau, nicknamed “The King of Gambling”

Since 1987, Ho has donated 147 Chinese antiques to mainland China. He also made donations to the China Cultural Relics Protection Fund. In 2007, during the 10th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule from the United Kingdom, he bought five important oil paintings and sculptures which symbolised the Chinese revolution dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, from Sotheby’s Hong Kong, and later donated them to Chinese museums.

Cai Mingchao, Xiamen

Owner of Xinheart Art, advisor to the China Cultural Relics Protection Fund

In 2006, Cai bought a Buddha from Sotheby’s Hong Kong for HK$117m ($15m). He submitted the winning bids for two bronze animal heads at a Christie’s sale in 2009 but later refused to pay on “patriotic grounds”.

Zhao Tailai, London

Professional collector

Zhao’s family collected a large number of cultural relics. Tailai has donated his collection worth more than Rmb800m ($122m) to Chinese museums. The donations include Chinese paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, bronzes, Tibetan thangka religious paintings and other crafts.

Yang Xiu, Nanjing

Owner of Tiandi Group

In 2004, Yang purchased paintings for Rmb60m ($9m) at auction in China. In 2004 his Chang Feng Tang Museum, the biggest private museum in China, owned more than 6,000 works.

Zhao Xin, Hong Kong

Mining magnate

Zhao bought the Qianlong era scroll The Grand Review (Number Four), one of a set depicting the Chinese Emperor reviewing his armies in 1739, at Labarbe auction in Toulouse, France, for $31m in March this year. In 2010, he commissioned a Taiwanese art dealer, Wang Dingqian, to buy a Qianlong appreciation seal from a Taiwan auction for $15m. While he is particularly interested in antiques of the Qing dynasty, he also owns a large number of Qi Baishi ink paintings.

Frank Huang, Taiwan

Founder and chairman of Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation

One of the 200 top collectors as chosen by ARTNews, Huang collects Chinese porcelain, impressionist and modern paintings.

Liu Wenjie, Beijing

Professional collector

Liu has been collecting Chinese traditional paintings since the 1980s. He is considered one of the most important private collectors with major ink paintings by Shi Tao, Wu Changshuo, Huang Binhong, Qi Baishi, Pu Hsin-yu, Li Keran, and Huang Zhou. n

Compiled by Luo Yi

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Traditional art collectors'