“Rarely has so much money been spent so quickly on so much bad art” says a recent article in The Art Newspaper that sheds light on the motivations of Ukrainian super-collector Victor Pinchuk. Below we sum up highlights from the original piece.

Damien Hirst "Requiem" exhibition at Pinchuk Art Centre in 2009

Damien Hirst's "Requiem" exhibition at Pinchuk Art Centre in 2009.

Click here to read the original article, titled “A ‘landmark’ museum for Ukraine”, on the website of The Art Newspaper.

Art is revolutionary

In a rare interview, billionaire and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk tells The Art Newspaper that he believes contemporary art to be one of the most revolutionary forces in the world, one that is able to spark debate and influence lives. He opened the Pinchuk Art Centre (PAC) in 2006 to introduce the “hottest” contemporary art trends into Eastern Europe. The private museum in the centre of Kiev is free of charge and shows a rotating display of works from the magnate’s private collection, including works by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami never seen before in the country.

Viktor Pinchuk with Takashi Murakami

Viktor Pinchuk with Takashi Murakami.

The gallery owes its success, Pinchuk says, to the unexpected “huge appetite” of young Ukrainians for contemporary art. Since opening in 2006, PAC has been visited by over one million people of which sixty percent were aged between sixteen and thirty. Introducing Ukrainians to international art, the article continues, may not have been Pinchuk’s sole motivation. By his own admission, he knew very little about contemporary art until 2005 when, at the Venice Biennale, he was struck by inspiration to set up his own art niche.

Pinchuk Art Centre Damien Hirst Exhibition august 2010

Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev.

Beyond a passion for collecting

A source close to the billionaire who wishes to remain anonymous told The Art Newspaper that beside philanthropy, Pinchuk may have less lofty motivations in setting up his trendy private museum. In 2000, Pinchuk’s father-in-law was implicated in the murder of an investigative journalist. The family name was battered in the media, and a Parisian public relations company hired by Pinchuk to help cleanse the family image advised him to buy art and put it on display.

Before he became a news tycoon with multiple industrial assets, Victor Pinchuk made his money manufacturing and selling steel tubing all over the former Soviet Union. His fortune and influence increased after he married Elena, daughter of Leonid Kuchma, the former president of Ukraine. Leading business magazine Forbes now estimates Pinchuk’s patrimony at USD3.3 billion.

Mr Pinchuk and his wife Helena Franchuk at Pinchuk Art Centre in 2009

Victor Pinchuk and his wife Helena Franchuk at Pinchuk Art Centre in 2009.

Buying at peak prices

When Pinchuk began his hurried acquisitions in 2005, prices were peaking. Most of the art he procured in that period, with the exception of artists Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons, represented by Larry Gagosian, came from Jay Joplin’s White Cube gallery. In just one year, he is said to have spent USD180 million with the London gallery. With enormous spending power and little prior education in contemporary art, he was encouraged to buy works that discerning buyers would not consider; critics universally panned his collection of Hirst paintings. More recently, The Art Newspaper reports, Pinchuk has shown a preference for buying directly from artists and has added a number of Chinese works to his collection.

Landmark museum for Ukraine

The success of PAC has encouraged the Ukrainian tycoon to expand his project, giving the museum, now hosted in an early twentieth century building, a more prestigious venue. The new building, says Pinchuk, could be ready in five years. Sources close to the project suggest that top Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have been hired for the purpose. Pinchuk hopes that the new iconic museum will become a popular destination for sightseeing tours in Kiev.


Related Topics: Victor Pinchukcollectors, museums

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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