Art Basel returns to Hong Kong, scaled-back but playing the long game

Published 31st May 2022

Asia’s largest art fair is back in business. That’s the message organizers of Art Basel want to get out. But after enduring two years of pandemic-related difficulties, this year’s Hong Kong edition — its second hybrid version — was a very different event to the one that drew bumper crowds back in 2019.
For one it was smaller with the number of galleries on display around half that of pre-2020 levels. It was also far more subdued.

The fair has long been an integral gathering on the arts calendar, especially among the region’s monied elite. But faced with tough border restrictions — Hong Kong is subject to some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 measures, including a mandatory one-week hotel quarantine — many international collectors and art dealers chose to stay away. More than half of the participating galleries opted for satellite booths — or elected to have a local representative on ground instead of flying in their own staff.

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