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Art Basel

Deutsche Bank to back Art Basel Hong Kong

But usual sponsor UBS still keen on fair

The battle is on for the right to sponsor Art Basel in Hong Kong. In a break with the art-fair norm, Deutsche Bank—the sponsor of Frieze Art Fair—has been confirmed as the backer for Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013, the fair’s first edition under its new ownership structure. The Swiss bank UBS has historically been Art Basel’s lead sponsor in both Switzerland (since 1994) and Miami Beach (since the first US edition in 2002). But it sounds as though putting money into the Hong Kong fair is an unspecified cost worth fighting for, and UBS is not ruling out future sponsorship. “We have been supporting [Art Basel] for many years, [so] supporting the show in Asia would certainly be worth examining,” says a spokeswoman for UBS. Deutsche Bank has been the sponsor of the Hong Kong fair for the past three years—in its previous incarnation as ArtHK, the fair’s inaugural sponsor was the now bankrupt US bank Lehman Brothers—and its continuing backing is part of a previous arrangement with the event’s founders, Asian Art Fairs, which still holds a 40% stake. A spokeswoman for Art Basel confirmed that the existing agreement gives Deutsche Bank the right to review its sponsorship each year until 2015. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank said the firm is “delighted to sponsor this exciting event in Hong Kong”. Representatives from Frieze did not respond to requests for comment.