The statement, posted to social media in English and Chinese on Sunday, said that Tek had died “surrounded by his beloved family” having spent his life “cultivating talents” and engaging the public through his “vast and historic collection.”
Born Budiardjo Tek in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1957, the entrepreneur began collecting in his 40s after he “discovered art’s ability to take him to new, unknown worlds,” according to his museum’s website. Using wealth from a successful career in the poultry trade, he initially focused on contemporary Chinese art from the 1980s and ’90s — a period that had seen China’s avant-garde movement flourish following the death of leader Mao Zedong, before it was forced to grapple with growing restrictions in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Budi Tek leads French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius around the Yuz Museum in Shanghai in 2014. Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Tek founded the since-closed Yuz Museum in Jakarta in 2006, before establishing the non-profit Yuz Foundation to manage his growing collection, which was widely was reportedly to be in excess of 1,500 Chinese contemporary works. But it was the opening of his museum’s Shanghai outpost in 2014 that established Tek as a major industry figure.
Measuring 9,000 square meters (97,000 square feet), the museum was able to accommodate Tek’s predilection for large-scale installation art. A tiger-skin pelt made from over 600,000 cigarettes — part of Chinese artist Xu Bing’s “Tobacco Project” — was one of many such artworks to have found their way from his collection to the museum floor.
Tek also committed himself to developing international understanding of — and appreciation for — Asian art, which is still heavily dependent on private philanthropy. He helped the UK’s Tate gallery group acquire work from the region and established a partnership between Yuz Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that saw the two institutions sharing artworks and co-curating exhibitions (the most recent of which, a major survey of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s work, opened in Shanghai just weeks before Tek’s death).
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