Budi Tek plans “serious” space in Shanghai to join his collection of private museums

The collector builds bridges with Tate and MoMA, and buys work by Kiefer, Cattelan and Hatoum


Budi Tek, a Chinese-Indonesian art collector, has revealed plans for an ambitious museum complex he is currently building in Shanghai.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper in Basel last month, Tek said the building, designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, will occupy around ten acres of land and will include 8,000 sq. m of display space.

This will be used to show a selection of works from Tek’s permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. “Now is the time for me to have a serious space because I have so many big things that maybe people can’t imagine,” he said.

The new institution will be called the De Museum. “De, in Chinese, is my middle name. It means morale, good character…righteousness,” said Tek, who added that he is building the museum “for the good name of my family”.

Tek, who made his money in agribusiness, said he first started buying art seriously around seven years ago, beginning with Chinese contemporary painting. Initially, he bought many works at auction. “I made a lot of mistakes,” he said, describing some of his early purchases as “big rubbish”. Now he says he buys only “major things” from galleries he trusts, singling out White Cube, Emmanuel Perrotin, David Zwirner, Gladstone Gallery, Massimo De Carlo, Kamel Mennour and Galleria Continua.

Jakarta space

In 2008, Tek opened a gallery in Jakarta, the Yuz Museum, which shows mostly Chinese contemporary art and organises three to five shows a year. A new exhibition of work by Ye Yongqing is due to open on 28 July (until September). “I have never borrowed works [for exhibitions] so far but…in Shanghai we will have a huge space, so it will be impossible for [me] to act alone,” said Tek, adding that he expects to host two exhibitions a year in the new museum in China.

To facilitate international collaborations in Shanghai, the collector has been building bridges with major institutions. He has sponsored publications and made loans to several museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Most recently he sent a 2005 installation of a dilapidated American spy plane infested with bats by Huang Yong Ping, entitled Bat Project IV, to Nottingham Contemporary in the UK for an exhibition by the artist, which closed on 26 June. In London, Tek says he recently contributed to the Tate’s acquisition of a 2006 installation by Cerith Wyn Evans, a Venetian chandelier that transmits Morse code, which is currently on show at Tate Britain.

Over budget

The first stage of the De Museum is due to open in 2013, with other supplementary spaces, such as pavilions for installations by Anselm Kiefer and Bill Viola, to open in stages over the following ten years.

In an email, the architect Sou Fujimoto described his intention to create a “new type of experience, combining nature and artificiality. The entrance area [will] welcome the visitors to an experience like strolling through a forest.”

Tek declined to discuss the project’s finances except to say that he expects the museum to be “over budget”. He said: “I am not looking for a return on my investment,” adding that making the museum sustainable is crucial. Situated in the city’s Jiading District, around 35km outside the centre, he hopes visitors will be enticed by revenue-generating hotels, a conference centre, an open-air theatre and a wedding chapel designed by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. “I think I am the first Chinese or Indonesian to be seriously making a collection into an institution, the first to build up a sustainable collection system,” said Tek, adding that he also owns property in Bali and may open a kunsthalle-type display space there one day.

Recent acquisitions at Art Basel

Tek’s collection includes large installations by Maurizio Cattelan, Adel Abdessemed, Yoshitomo Nara and an edition of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, among many others. To these works he added several more at Art Basel in June, including a Fred Sandback yarn sculpture acquired for $500,000 from David Zwirner and Verna at Art Unlimited. He also bought Mona Hatoum’s Impenetrable, 2009, a cube of black steel and fishing wire suspended from the ceiling, presented by White Cube and Galleria Continua at Art Unlimited, and priced at E300,000. Tek also purchased a painting and two installations by Anselm Kiefer from White Cube while in Basel, although these were not shown at the fair. White Cube confirms that the price for the Kiefer painting was under E3m, which a source close to the deal says includes a 30% discount offered because the works will go on show in an institutional setting. White Cube nor Tek would comment further.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Collector plans “serious” space in Shanghai'