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Chinese-Indonesian art collector Budi Tek is dead

Chinese-Indonesian agriculture tycoon Budi Tek stands in front of a painting by Gerhard Richter at an auction preview in Hong Kong, April 2, 2012.

If you ate chicken in Asia, he probably sold it to you. If you visited and appreciated the exhibition of the Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi, in 2013, at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, or of Adel Abdessemed at the Center Pompidou the previous year, it is thanks to him: he largely contributed to financing them. If Californians will soon be able to discover contemporary Chinese art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), it is still his doing: knowing he was condemned, he offered them whole sections of his collection, also presented in the museum. which he founded in Shanghai. Budiardjo, known as “Budi” Tek, died in Hong Kong on March 18 from pancreatic cancer.

Born in Jakarta on October 27, 1957 (and not 1959, the date often quoted in the press), he descends from a family of Chinese origin who had fled their country torn by civil wars in the 1920s. In Indonesia, his parents operated farms and raised poultry. They were successful enough to send their son to study finance and marketing first in Singapore and then in the United States. A wise decision: back on the farm, Budi Tek took over the reins of the company, making it progress to such an extent that it was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange in 1993. He was rich then, as he confided in an interview granted in 2012 to the magazine Point, loses everything: the Asian crisis of 1998 sees the Indonesian rupiah severely devalued, riots break out in the country, and a strong xenophobic feeling develops, particularly targeting Chinese emigrants like him.

Fight against xenophobia

He takes refuge with his family in Shanghai, undertakes to relaunch his business in Indonesia from his new base and rebuilds his fortune. When he appeared, at first shy, in the art world where he began to collect in the mid-2000s, he was nicknamed “the king of chicken”. Very early on, in 2008, he opened his first private museum in Jakarta, the Yuz Museum, a name forged from his Chinese surname, Yu, to which the “z” adds, according to him, like an “s”, a family size. He shows contemporary Chinese artists: ” I wanted to, he confided to Point, that Chinese culture is appreciated in Indonesia. Because I am Chinese. Chinese from Indonesia. I wanted to make the link, a kind of bridge to make my contribution to Indonesian society. » His way of fighting against the xenophobia suffered a few years earlier. This will become one of his driving forces: to bring to some what he has discovered in others.

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