The Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek is to be awarded France’s premier award, the Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour) at a ceremony at his Yuz Museum in Shanghai on 13 August.
Tek, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around 18 months ago, is being commended for advancing cultural relations between China and France, as well as “his contributions to the development of human society”, according to a statement.
As early as 2011, the Yuz Foundation has been responsible for several major gifts, loans and exhibitions in French institutions. In 2013 it sponsored Zeng Fanzhi's solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and in 2015 it donated a painting by the Chinese contemporary artist Ding Yi to the Centre Pompidou. In March 2016, Tek worked with the Giacometti Foundation to stage the largest-ever retrospective of Giacometti in China.
Describing art as “a language without borders”, Tek said it was “an honour” to be able to advance communications between China and France through culture. “As a patriot, I hope to make my humble effort to promote interactions and communications between Eastern and Western contemporary art through the Yuz Museum,” he said. Due to his illness, there are now plans to turn Tek's private museum into a non-profit, public institution so that it can be governed by a board of trustees.
The Legion d’Honneur is the highest decoration given by the French government and was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It is conferred either upon French nationals or foreigners who have served the country and upheld its ideals. Other Chinese recipients in the cultural sphere include the architect I. M. Pei, the novelist Jin Yong and Ba Jin, one of the country’s literary giants of the 20th century.