Art Basel has canceled its upcoming show in Hong Kong due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 30,000 people globally.
Organizers have decided to cancel the scheduled Art Basel Hong Kong in mid-March due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. The event is considered the largest art fair in Asia, attracting nearly 90,000 visitors from over 70 countries in 2019.
In a statement, Art Basel Global Director Marc Spiegler said: “The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us.” He added that while the organization considered other options, it could not push through with the event due to the virus’ “sudden outbreak and rapid spread.”
An Art Basel spokesperson said 75% of the stand fee will be refunded to the galleries. The event is considered one of the main stops on the global arts calendar and has become commercially important due to the number of collectors from mainland China and the region attending the show.
Collector Michael Xufu Huang said the decision to cancel was “unfortunate but the right one.” He added: “I could see (the decision) coming. Even if the virus were to be contained by March … there’s so much organization that goes into planning beforehand — shipping, traveling.”
“And with travel restrictions it would be impossible for people in the mainland to go. (They) are very important in terms of buying power,” he pointed out.
Exhibitor Jasdeep Sandhu described the coronavirus as “the final nail in the coffin” and he previously stated that canceling the fair was a “no-brainer.” Sandhu is the founder of Singapore’s Gajah Gallery, one of the 240-plus galleries expected to show at the fair.
“Everyone’s got reservations … It’s a pity, because a lot of jobs are dependent on this, galleries are dependent on this and so is Hong Kong,” he explained.