Organisers of Chinese fair are discussing Pierre Huber's future
Georgina Adam | 15.1.08 | Issue 187
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LONDON. According to a source close to the fair organisers, the
Geneva dealer Pierre Huber may be forced to resign as artistic
director of ShContemporary, which launched in Shanghai in September
with 120 dealers.
Mr Huber is involved in a legal dispute with the Parisian dealer
Enrico Navarra (The Art Newspaper, November 2007, p69), who has
accused Mr Huber of numerous conflicts of interest. Mr Navarra cites
the ShContemporary catalogue cover which features a work of art from
Mr Huber's own gallery. He also says Mr Huber accompanied VIPs to
artists' studios in Shanghai and then suggested purchases should be
made through him.
Mr Huber's lawyer says Mr Navarra "owes Mr Huber money", which
accounts for the allegations.
Mr Navarra acknowledges he is in dispute with Mr Huber over the
purchase of around 30 works of art by Chinese artists, in which he
invested around $1.5m. Both men have filed lawsuits against each other.
Lorenzo Rudolf, co-founder of the ShContemporary fair and a previous
director of Art Basel, says: "We cannot have a situation where the
artistic director of a fair has a conflict of interest." But he
denies that Mr Huber will be asked to step down. "No decision has
been taken, but we are in discussions to resolve this matter," he says.
"I think it is important to keep ethical in this business. There
should be boundaries between the commercial and the artistic at the
major fairs. Pierre Huber is a great person but there is a line you
should never cross," says Olivier Bélot of Yvon Lambert, which
exhibited in Shanghai.
However, others agree with Mr Huber's lawyers. "This would never have
happened without the Navarra affair," says Lorenzo Fiaschi, director
of Galleria Continua, which also exhibited at ShContemporary.
"If Pierre Huber leaves, I'm not sure if I will go back there and I
think others won't either. He has in-depth specialist knowledge of
the Chinese market, and he is a guarantee of the high artistic
quality of the fair," said Ursula Krinzinger of Krinzinger, another
ShContemporary exhibitor. "It will only benefit the Beijing fair [Art
Beijing takes place from 6 to 9 September 2008]. All the major fairs
are set up by dealers," says Ms Krinzinger. At the time of going to
press, Mr Huber had not responded to repeated requests for a comment.